ULAN BATOR, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Extreme wintry weather, known as dzud in Mongolia, has killed more than 55,700 livestock animals in the northwestern province of Khuvsgul alone since late last year, the provincial agricultural department said Monday.
"Dzud" is a Mongolian term to describe the frigid winter that comes after a dry summer and causes the death of a great number of livestock due to starvation or cold weather.
"A total of 55,764 livestock animals have died in 11 soums (a type of administrative district in Mongolia) of our province since late last year due to the severe wintry weather. Heavy snowfalls have hit the province 16 times since the beginning of November," the department said in a statement.
The agricultural department and other relevant provincial organizations have been distributing grass and fodder to local herders free of charge or at discounted prices, it added.
Mongolia is one of the last nomadic countries in the world, with a livestock population of 70.9 million, as of the end of 2019.
As snowfall has currently covered around 60 percent of the country, more than 80 soums in 15 provinces are experiencing dzud or near-dzud conditions, according to the country's National Emergency Management Agency.
Animal husbandry is the backbone of the country's national economy, with nearly 40 percent of the nomadic population depending on it for their livelihood.
Thousands of herders lose their animals almost every year due to dzud, with more than 1 million animals dying due to it in 2016.