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Volunteers fight to rescue hunger buffalos on a Brazil farm where 500 people died

Volunteers fight to rescue hunger buffalos on a Brazil farm where 500 people died

According to people involved in the effort, a group of volunteers has been trying to rescue hundreds of buffalos that police believe were abandoned on a Brazil dairy farm, where as many as 500 have already died of hunger.

Last month, the Environmental police in the town of Brotas, about 150 miles (250 km) from the capital of Sao Paulo, responded to reports of malnourished and mistreated animals on the Sao Luiz da Agua Sumida farm.

According to a copy of the police story seen by Reuters, officers found 667 animals abandoned in a restricted area and many more carcasses.

"I arrived here, it was a war scene," said Maurice Vidal, a veterinary doctor responsible for the ongoing emergency care. "There were many animals, many animals extremely debilitated and fallen," he said, estimating up to 500 buffalos had since been discovered dead on the property.

Luiz Augusto Pinheiro de Souza, the farm's owner, couldn't be reached for comment.

Souza denied any wrongdoing in an interview with Globo TV, stating that there was food and water for the animals and that some died of natural causes.

Some of the animals were too weak to stand and were hoisted using heavy equipment to receive medical treatment. Other buffaloes were gaunt, with their bones and rib cages clearly visible.

According to the environmental police story, authorities put a fine of more than 2 million reais ($360,000) for environmental violations.

An environmental agency spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday that civil police are conducting investigations, which could result in further charges.

According to a copy of the decision, 50 individuals, including veterinarians protected by local police, could work on the farm, following volunteers claiming Souza was hindering their rescue efforts.

According to Larissa Maluf of a non-profit organization dubbed the Brazilian Vegetarian Society, the owner of the farm leased part of it to grow crops, reducing the animals' food supply.

"The proprietor of the farm decided to lease to soybeans, and with that, he was leaving the room for these animals smaller and less," she said.

($1 = 5.62 reais)

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