Roughly 600 cattle have died due to cold weather in Jaffna, Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi, as temperatures have dropped as low as 17 degrees in the past few days.
For years Tamil farmers have faced difficulties in sustaining their livestock due to inadequate provisions from the government, which often left them resettled without adequate grazing land. Instead, large portions of this land have been handed off to Sri Lanka’s military, which has increasingly engaged in agriculture and has undermined local businesses by selling produce grown on that land back to locals below market rates.
“We know the hardship caused by the death of these animals [...] Without eating at home, we ensured that animals were fed. We would even feed the baby calves milk […] Today I broke down in tears. When they die, I don’t know what I will do”.
Another farmer highlights that in his area, 15 cows have died, and the worth of each cow is around 50,000 rupees. He fears that the rest of his livestock will die and laments his lack of options.
He describes how they have attempted to keep their livestock safe through the use of fires but notes that the frequent rain has put these fires out.