Alpine Meadows Operation: Swiss Army Airlifts Water To Thirsty Animals

Swiss army helicopters have been drafted in to airlift water to thousands of thirsty farm animals sweltering under this summer’s soaring temperatures in the country’s Alpine meadows.

Lower rainfall this year forced farmers to call on the army to swoop in with much-needed refreshments for their animals and prevent a drought causing feed shortages later in the year.

A two-week operation is now under way with Super Puma helicopters flying to refill the near-empty reservoirs used by farmers for their cows, whose milk is often used to make Gruyere cheese, and other animals such as pigs and goats.

Without the emergency water supply, the animals would have to be brought down from their elevated fields to graze in lowlands, where normally their winter hay is produced during the summer months.

Swiss territorial army commander Mathias Tuescher said six helicopters had been mobilised for the effort, which will run until Aug. 19.

Overall some 400,000 tonnes of water could be dropped by the helicopters into the reservoirs, he said, with 1.5 tonnes delivered each trip.

The operation was also carried during the droughts of 2015 and 2018.

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