The hard winter proved inconvenient for city dwellers, and catastrophic for livestock in the highlands. Over 7,500 animals starved to death in Chon-Alai district this winter, according to an official count. Throughout Kyrgyzstan, close to 25,000 animals are thought to have perished due to the prolonged winter. Because cold weather set in early, herders quickly went through their feed for livestock, and heavy snowfall meant that fresh supplies couldn’t reach the region. In areas like Chon-Alai, where the sale and purchase of livestock drives the local economy, the losses have been devastating.
“We have never seen such a winter,” said a villager in Daroot-Korgon, some four bumpy hours’ drive – when the road is clear – from Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s southern capital. “Some people say the winter was bad like this in 1968,” the villager added, going over the deaths for the district: 717 cows, 281 yaks, 328 horses, and 6,202 sheep.