THE outbreak of viral diseases among livestock in Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar and Naushero Feroze districts is assuming serious proportions because of lack of prompt remedial measures by the concerned provincial department.
According to cattle farmers, large number goats, sheep, cows, buffaloes and camels have been hit by viral diseases in central and lower districts of Sindh.
Livestock executive district officers confirmed that they have received reports of Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) disease in goats and sheep, Haloragis in camels and foot and mouth disease among other animals.
“Reports of rising death toll of animals have been received from various areas of Tharparkar, Umerkot, Achro Thar (White Thar) in Sanghar and Naushero Feroz districts. Besides, adjoining districts are also said to be at risk, if officials concerned do not quickly respond to the situation,” said Bachal, a cattle farmer in Samoo Rind village of Umerkot.
“In Nagarparkar in Tharparkar district, scores of animals have been killed during the last three months,” said Santosh Kumar, a veterinary doctor in the town.
He told this scribe that some 10 weeks ago camels started contracting mouth disease in different parts of Tharparkar and Umerkot districts. “Once these animals fall prey to such diseases, they stop eating as their mouth bleeds and they die in three to four days,” Kumar explained.
Deputy Director Livestock Dr Rasheed Nizamani said that according to the livestock census 2006 there are around 6.925 million cattle heads in Sindh, nearly 60 per cent (4.155 million) of them in Tharparkar district alone.
The livestock of the province is growing at an average rate of 2.3 to 2.7 per cent annually following increased investment in the livestock sector, claims Dr Ghulam Sarwar Shaikh, director general Sindh Livestock.
Karimdad Rahimo of Haji Adam Ji Dhani village in Sanghar district recalls: “In January this year the livestock heads, particularly the young and newborn ones, started suffering from diarrhoea, sheep pox, pneumonia and other diseases and on an average five to eight cattle heads died every day.”
The village people said that their cattle was also affected by sore mouth suffered from bluetongue and diarrhea. These diseases caused their animals to bleed, suffer abdominal pain and resulted in their death within three to four days.
However, no vaccination by livestock department officials had been carried out in their area so far, some of them complained.
Situation in other parts of east-southern districts is not different either, where cattle death toll is rising.
Villagers of the Achhro Thar told this scribe over phone that about 133 goats, 1,121 sheep, 23 cows and 29 camels had died during the last three months in Sobharo, Janhaar, Thoorahoo, Maankor and adjoining villages.
“Most of the areas in Tharparkar and Umerkot, Sanghar and Naushero Feroz are without any or proper veterinary facilities.
Their absence results economic miseries of livestock breeders, who are compelled to transport their livestock to private veterinary facilities in Thatta, Badin and Hyderabad for treatment. In some cases, private vets are also called in from these areas to visit the disease-hit villages who charge the livestock owners heavily,” said Ali Akbar Rahimo, an Umerkot-based cattle farming expert.
“My 53 goats and kids suffered from diarrhoea, sore mouth and bluetongue diseases and a few of them died two weeks back. The infected goats bleed from mouth, remain lazy and do not eat or drink anything and after getting weaker die in one or two days,” said Ali Jalal of Samo Rind village in Umerkot district.
Mehar Ali Samoo of Kasboo area in Nagarparkar said he had lost 25 goats so far to the bluetongue viral disease. However, getting no help from taluka livestock officials, I had to take my cattle to private veterinary hospital in Badin, where I was charged Rs900 per visit. In addition, I had to spend about Rs4,300 for transporting the cattle and buying medicines.
The livestock officials in the districts said they lacked funds and required facilities to fight the diseases which prevented them from visiting the affected areas.
Umerkot EDO( agriculture and livestock) Ghulamullah Jarwar said he had dispatched some teams to the affected areas to study the problem, diagnose them and vaccinate the infected animals accordingly.
“The outbreak of the disease is a common phenomenon after rains in Thar region, which was controllable after vaccination,” he said.
He, however, hoped the problem would be brought under control soon by launching vaccination drive in the affected areas.
Livestock officials in Umerkot, Sangahr and Naushero Feroz districts attributed inadequate funds and lack of transport facilities as major constraints in delivery of their services to viral-hit cattle farmers.
“We have written to the provincial government to provide vet diagnosis kits, medicines, vaccinations and funds to strengthen the laboratories in different districts, particularly in Tharparkar, Umerkot and Badin districts to overcome the livestock diseases and save them from death, said Dr. Rashid Nizamani.