Wednesday 20 March 2024

Mongolia's Own Three-Body Problem—Climate Change, Drought and Record-Breaking 'Dzuds' (Cold) is back. It never really went away! Months of temperatures humans shouldn't have to endure claimed the lives of nearly '5 million livestock animals' this winter

Right—The deadliest dzud on record was the winter of 2010-11 when more than 10 million animals died—Almost a quarter of the country’s total livestock at the time. Credit Wikipedia. 

Mongolian herders have endured months of extreme cold, known as the “dzud”, that have already claimed the lives of nearly '5 million livestock animals'—not including wild animals! Mongolia’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), has issued an emergency appeal for assistance from the Red Cross.

At least 2,250 herder families have lost more than 70 per cent of their livestock, as this year’s dzud blankets grazing lands in deep snow and ice, according to the Red Cross, and there are predictions many more animals will be unable to survive the next few weeks. About 30 per cent of the country’s 3.3 million people are nomadic herders, living in dwellings known as gers or yurts on the country’s vast open steppes.

Olga Dzhumaeva, head of the East Asia delegation of the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), said herders were facing “the loss of their precious livestock” and “immense pressures on people’s mental and physical health. “The ongoing livestock deaths, diminishing resources and deteriorating conditions of hundreds of thousands of people in Mongolia this winter is a stark reminder of the urgent need for assistance,” she said in a statement on Tuesday. Mongolians are used to enduring cold conditions, especially during the winter months from December to March, but extreme cold is known as dzud – the Mongolian word for disaster.

A balmy day in Mongolia—Credit Earthwindmap

During dzuds, temperatures in some parts of the country fall as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius (minus 58 Fahrenheit). This year’s dzud has seen numerous blizzards, bringing heavy snow. According to the United Nations, dzuds are already becoming more common with climate change. This is the sixth dzud Mongolia has experienced in the past decade, with herders still struggling to recover after last year’s harsh winter which claimed the lives of 4.4 million livestock animals. A drought last summer also meant that many animals were not able to build up enough fatty stores ahead of the colder months.

Changing conditions Climate change has disrupted Mongolia’s four-season cycle, leading to a rise “in recurrent summer droughts and subsequent harsh winters” since 2015, Tapan Mishra, the UN resident coordinator in Mongolia, said last month. The loss of grazing options for livestock has meant herders already used up their hay and fodder stocks months earlier than usual, the Red Cross says. 

According to official data, Mongolia had some 64.7 million livestock animals at the end of 2023. Mongolia is known for its unique breeds of sheep, cattle, horses, goats, dromedaries, Bactrian camels and yaks, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These include the Bayad sheep, which can endure even Mongolia’s coldest regions after centuries of selective breeding, and provide families with milk, wool and meat. The loss of so many livestock has placed strains on herder communities, who were “prepared for harsh conditions, but not to such an extent”, according to the Red Cross.

Bolormaa Nordov, secretary-general of the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS), said she hoped a new Red Cross appeal would help to “minimise the impact of the Dzud emergency and support households with longer-term solutions for their lives and livelihoods”. IFRC’s Dzhumaeva said Mongolians were surviving but were in urgent need of help. “Yet we see the unwavering hope and resilience of so many families as they battle winter’s wrath with incredible strength,” said Dzhumaeva.


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1 comment:

Hawkeye said...

Understand what we are looking at. GEOENGINEERED WEATHER. Fake man-made freeze. So very sad.