August 19th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) Some 200 to 300 head of cattle are being illegally smuggled into Costa Rica from Nicaragua every week in the border areas of Upala and Los Chiles, according to the regional head of the National Animal Health Service (SENASA), Elliut Herrera.
“Smuggling has increased in recent weeks and we believe it is an effect of the drought affecting many Nicaraguan farms,” Herrera said.
SENASA has asked the Ministry of Public Security to increase border security in the area, citing risks to Costa Rica’s cattle herds from animals without health checks.
This year’s record drought has killed thousands of cattle and dried up crops throughout Central America. In northern Nicaragua, vultures can be seen eating the carcasses of cows that are dropping dead in dried out pastures.
The lack of rain has been blamed on the probable arrival of the El Niño weather phenomenon, which is characterized by unusually warm Pacific Ocean temperatures that can trigger droughts.
Nicaragua’s government says the country is enduring its worst drought since 1976, which has also ravaged the country’s first harvest.