Helicopters Save Thirsty Cows
Swiss army helicopters in Rossiniere, Switzerland, began airlifting water by earlier this month to several thousand thirsty cows enduring the heatwave and drought that affected much of Europe.
The roughly 40,000 cows that graze during the summer in pastures high above the Vaud Canton in western Switzerland
“I’ve been renting this pasture for 13 years now. We had to airlift water sometimes but never that much,” Gregoire Martin, who manages a farm with 68 cows and 90 head of young cattle at Le Culand pasture in Rossiniere, told Reuters. “We already used the army’s helicopter two years ago but in the long term we cannot go on like this.”
Switzerland is planning on cutting import tariffs on livestock feed and will provide interest-free loans to aid farmers stricken by the drought, the federal government announced.
“The situation is very worrying because Switzerland has not known a drought like that … since 1921,” said Philippe Leuba, head of economy and sport for Vaud.
The heatwave has also killed fish in the Rhine. The most battered area has been from Lake Constance to the Rhine Falls, where thousands of dead grayling have removed from the river. The cold water grayling, a member of the salmon family, finds it difficult to survive when water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit. In some stretches of the Rhine, temperatures have reached 27 degrees this month.
During a 2003 heatwave, 90 percent of Switzerland‘s grayling population perished. Samuel Grundler of the Swiss Fisheries Association said, “The situation is very precarious in many small and medium size stretches of water. We have done everything in our power.”
The emergency measures include transporting fish to cold-water basins by helicopter. “We rescued fish from hundreds of kilometres of streams and transferred them to other waters,” said Urs Philipp, fishing and hunting supervisor in Zurich Canton.
A recent study from the University of Oxford has found that climate change has more than doubled the chances of the current heat wave.
“The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,” said one of the report’s authors, Dr Friederike Otto, deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.
“What was once regarded as unusually warm weather will become commonplace – in some cases, it already has,” he said.