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El Niño and drought take toll on Zimbabwe's cattle

Staff writer ▼ | January 13, 2016
Worsening drought in Zimbabwe has dried up water holes, crops and pasture, leaving farmers unable to feed their animals.
Drought Zimbabwe
Nature   A cow that used to sell for $500 now fetches just $50
Because so many desperate farmers now have animals on the market, a cow that used to sell for $500 now fetches just $150 - or in some places as little as $50 - from buyers in the cities.

As climate change strengthens, drought is becoming more frequent and severe in southern Africa, and that - combined with this year's El Niño phenomenon - is taking a heavy toll on rural lives and economies, experts say.

Zimbabwe is one of many countries feeling the strain of El Niño, which has dried up rainfall across southern Africa over the last year, killing crops, disrupting hydropower production and forcing local water authorities to enforce stringent water rationing in some areas.

Livestock experts say parched pastures are causing the deaths of thousands of cattle across the country. Last year, the agriculture ministry's livestock department estimated that the national cattle herd stood at 5.3 million animals, down from over 6 million in 2014.