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Saturday, May 16

Faces of Australia's drought survivors

An excellent May 12 report by Matthew Cullen and "AAP" for the (U.K.) Telegraph, Drought danger as El Niño officially returns, focuses on the complexities and uncertainties of how the weather pattern will affect Australia, parts of which have been in a deep drought for years.  The report contains helpful charts and also photographs of Australian farmers and cattle and sheep ranchers who've stoically endured the drought.  

There have been several suicides of Australians whose farms have been wiped out by drought in recent years. And there have been so many farmer suicides in India in recent years in reaction to bad weather that it's now a sick fad to the point of ridiculousness.  

One young Indian farmer didn't even try to see what could be salvaged for sale or attempt to get a loan from relatives to tide him over after his crops where hit by a storm.  He went straightaway to the main tree in his village and hung himself.  (The villagers cut down the tree after they cut him down.)

Suicide in response to drought is a story as old as farming.  There were many such suicides during the droughts on the Great Plains in Depression-era America. It takes true grit to face down a long drought when one's livelihood is directly dependent on rainfall.

So I thought it would be appropriate to feature some of the Telegraph's pictures of Australians who've refused to cave in. 

Dave Fleming on his parched farm in Walgett
Picture: Peter Lorimer

Annastacia Palaszczuk on a property near Barcaldine
Picture: Mark Calleja
Drought effect on grazier Richard Kinnon’s property
Picture: Mark Calleja
Cattle rancher Emma Forster on her "Werna" ranch near Winton 
Picture: Adam Head

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