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Monday, November 14, 2011

Lightning kills 21 cows – Limpopo Province


 
After a hefty thunderstorm Mr Brink Schlesinger remarked how thankful he was for the 15mm rain his farm received, while other farmers in the area did not receive a drop. However - his thankfulness was premature as he was, at that point in time, unaware that 21 of his gravid heifers had been struck dead by lightning.

Schlesinger, from the farm Black Stone on top of the mountain nearby Waterpoort, stated that he just moved the heifers to a camp lower down the mountain, as it was about two weeks before they were due to calf. “I did not want them to calf high-up on the mountain as there was a grave risk that the calves’ would be caught by leopards,” said Schlesinger.

At that moment there was no indication of any thunderstorms. About one hour later, after the heifers were moved to the new camp, they all lay dead in the veld - struck by lightning. Schlesinger only found out about his loss the previous day, when his cowherd stumbled upon the calamity.

“It was shocking to see the cows like that,” Schlesinger remarked. It was hardly three weeks before the misfortune that he mentioned to a friend how pleased he was that he did not farm with crops anymore. That was after several farmers lost their crops due to a recent destructive hailstorm in the Waterpoort/Vivo-region.

Schlesinger expressed much sympathy with those farmers, despite the fact that his tragedy was a double loss, as the 21 cows killed were actually 42 cows – i.e. if they all calved. He estimates the loss between R200,000 en R300,000.

Then again, cows that are struck dead by lightning is not an uncommon occurrence in the region.  Schlesinger mentioned that in 2007 five cows were killed by lightning on the neighbouring farm Bushy-Rise. In 2009 the same farm lost four cows with calves – also by lightning.

“There are specific camps at Bushy-Rise where we don’t keep cows due to the thunderstorms and lightning that occur during this time of the year. Nevertheless, this is the first time it happened on my farm. I don’t know why Bushy-Rise is so lightning-prone,” said Schlesinger.

“It is disheartening that one cannot do anything with the meat. All we can only do is bring in the front-end loader, dig a hole, and bury the dead cows,” Schlesinger said.

I first read this news report in a local newspaper, "Die Zoutpansberger", while on a visit to Louis Trichardt during the past weekend. The story can also be read in an online Afrikaans report compiled by Andries van Zyl on 12 Nov. 2011 – published on  zoutnet.co.za. I took the liberty of translating the report from Afrikaans to English.

Afrikaans - Weerlig slaan 21 van boer se beeste dood

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