While much of Costa Rica is dealing with the effects of too much rain, for the drought-stricken Northern Zone, it is too little, too late, according to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
At the end of May, the organization briefly visited Los Chiles, a canton along Costa Rica’s northern border, where the drought has been the worst, to attend to animals facing immediate danger from the lack of water.
The government declared a national emergency May 22 after cattle began dying on more than 50 ranches in the region (TT, May 23).
In a statement released late last week, WSPA said 700 animals have died from the drought, while another 6,000 remained “in precarious conditions.”
While the recent rains have brought once-desiccated pastures back to life, it has not been enough,WSPA said.
“The start of the rains may also bring negative side effects on the well-being of the animals, with the change in temperature and humidity, as well as the poor condition of the cattle, causing a depression in the animals’ immune system, leading to the appearance of diseases,” it warned.
WSPA also said the deaths were not entirely Mother Nature’s fault.
“The situation in Los Chiles is more a consequence of the lack of preventive actions by cattle owners than of the drought alone,” the WSPA statement said.
Only 30 percent of cattle ranchers follow a health care plan for their animals that includes vaccines and pasture improvements, WSPA said.
Government-launched programs to improve conditions have had little success, the statement continued, because farmers have largely failed to buy and plant pasture seeds on time, and seed and medications donated by the government often end up being sold by the farmers rather than used.