Farmers in Serbia scramble to rescue animals from river island

KRCEDINSKA ADA, Serbia – Serbian farmers and officials struggled on Wednesday to rescue dozens of starving horses and cattle stranded on an island in the Danube River.

The animals are normally left to graze during spring and summer on the Krcedinska Ada in the Danube, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Belgrade. Unusually warm weather through to early winter this year meant they stayed there longer.

A sudden rise in Danube water levels in late December, the unavailability of the barge normally used to transfer the animals, and the onset of snow and subzero temperatures, left the animals stranded and deprived of food.

In total 97 cows, 40 calves and 70 horses were on the island when the waters rose, according to the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture.

“The cows lost about 50 kilos each … some will die,” Milenko Plavsic, an owner, told reporters. “Around 30 head of cattle and (all) the horses are still there … I am hoping we will manage to get them today,” he said.

The rescue effort began on Monday when rescuers from Serbia’s Department for Emergency Situations brought in hay.

The state forestry also secured a tug and a barge to ferry the animals to the mainland, but officials said some of the animals were refusing to board the vessel.

“It’s not easy to transport horses and cows that are in very bad shape … if we don’t finish today, we’ll resume tomorrow,” Marko Marinkovic, a forestry official, told reporters. REUTERS

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