Millions of farm animals around the world will die in the coming decade due to drought, natural and environmental disasters, experts warn.
More than 200 million work animals – such as horses, donkeys, camels, oxen and elephants – currently ensure the livelihood of at least 600 million people in the world’s poorest communities.
However, floods, cyclones and forest fires are having a devastating – and worsening – impact on work animals and the families they support in low-income countries around the world.
Official figures in India estimate that 17,000 animals (including ox and buffalo) were killed by cyclones across the country in 2020, and it is estimated that nearly a million cattle are lost to floods every year.
And up to 80 percent of Somaliland’s livestock died as a result of the debilitating drought that hit East Africa in 2017.
Global animal welfare organization EXPLORE (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) urges governments to take action to protect the “silent victims” of climate change as the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 approaches its start date on November 1st.
Linda Edwards, CEO of SPANA, said: “The widening climate catastrophe is now high on the political agenda. But the devastating effects on animals are still almost completely overlooked.
“Animals suffer terribly from drought and the extremes of climate change and are paying the ultimate price in great numbers.
“The loss of these animals is also associated with high human costs, as so many families in the world’s poorest regions depend on them for survival.
“We have reached a crisis point – every day the lives of workhorses and those who depend on them are being made worse by the devastating effects of extreme weather conditions.
“It is imperative that firm international commitments are made to address the wider effects of climate change.”
In response to the escalating crisis, SPANA is offering livestock a lifeline in many of the world’s poorest communities.
The charity provides free veterinary care and vaccination programs, and runs emergency relief projects to ensure that animals in dire need have access to water, food and shelter from extreme conditions.
After the worst drought in years in the Turkana region in Kenya, SPANA built a 110 meter deep solar-powered borehole to sustainably supply more than 15,000 animals and nomadic pasture communities with fresh water.
In the event of climate change and disasters, the loss of these animals can endanger the survival of entire communities.
On World Animal Day (October 4th), SPANA calls for urgent international measures to protect animals and the endangered communities they support.
John Craven OBE, Patron of the Charity, added: “The climate crisis affects each of us in every part of the world, but often communities and animals in developing countries suffer most.
“Working animals abroad help ensure the survival of millions of families who have next to nothing. But the very survival of these animals themselves is now seriously endangered.
“It is time to give them the much-needed support. SPANA makes a life-saving difference by helping workhorses exposed to the effects of environmental unrest around the world. “
Learn more about the effects of climate change on livestock in the SPANA website.