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Mass graves dug for horses in Kazakhstan as Central Asian steppe hit by brutal heat wave, leaving wells and rivers running dry

Mass graves dug for horses in Kazakhstan as Central Asian steppe hit by brutal heat wave, leaving wells and rivers running dry
International organizations are warning that months of severe drought in the former Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan are causing livestock to perish from hunger and thirst as supplies of food and water vanish in the sweltering heat.

A report by Reuters, published on Saturday, described how mass graves are being dug for hundreds of horses, farmed on the steppes for their meat and milk. One ranch owner, Gabidolla Kalynbayuly, told reporters that 20 of his steeds had already perished in the unseasonable heat this year, which has seen record-shattering temperatures in the Central Asian nation of up to 46.5 Celsius (115.7 Fahrenheit).

After months of sweltering weather, crops have failed and grass used to graze horses has virtually vanished. The drought has also left animals without food or water, while the price of hay and barley has shot up. At the end of July, the European Commission’s humanitarian aid watchdog agency warned that “minimum reserves of food and water are exhausted leading to the mass death of animals” in the west of Kazakhstan.

Also on rt.com Why you should care about Kazakhstan: The drought nobody is talking about could be a harbinger of doom for the region & the West

The government has imposed a six-month ban on the exports of both food and livestock, insisting that produce should stay at home while it struggles to meet demand and rescue the agriculture sector. In addition, the drought has sparked diplomatic tensions with neighboring Kyrgyzstan, which spans the mountains from which Kazakhstan's water sources flow. Kyrgyz officials have come under pressure to ban water exports in response to overall scarcity.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that his country is already seeing the effects of climate change, and being affected disproportionately by global warming. Putin explained that the average annual temperature for the past 44 years has been growing 2.8 times faster in Russia than the global average. “I have already spoken about this, and experts are well aware of this,” he said.

READ MORE: Putin says effects of global climate change disproportionately hitting Russia, as country battered by floods & raging wildfires

However, there are hopes that climate change could also bring positives to the world’s largest country, with vast regions currently too cold for agriculture thawing and opening up new opportunities for farmers to graze livestock. Analysts have repeatedly pointed to Russia as one potential winner from global climate change, against the backdrop of catastrophic predictions for the fate of much of the southern hemisphere.

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