MULTAN: Camels of an estimated value of Rs2.2 billion have died in the last two months in the Cholistan desert.
Residents of the area have expressed grave concern over a virus that has killed over 120,000 camels in the Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar districts. At least 300,000 camels have been inflicted with the virus and locals have blamed the Livestock Department for not distributing an adequate number of vaccines.
Speaking to The Express Tribune former Cholistan nazim Hassan Daaha claimed that the issue of camel vaccinations had been politicised as the Cholistan Development Authority fell under the jurisdiction of the Punjab governor and the Livestock Department operated under the Punjab government. However Bahawalpur Livestock Officer Rafiq Gondal claimed that they knew about the disease since December but Cholistan did not come under their area jurisdiction. “We did constitute two teams of veterinary doctors to visit the area and these mobile teams examined and treated more than 2,000 camels,” he said. Gindal said that the vaccine to treat the camels cost only Rs5 per animal.
He said that on special instructions from Punjab Livestock director general Irfan Zahid his teams had sent blood and serum samples of the camels to the laboratories in Lahore and Islamabad. “They said it was bacterial bronchus pneumonia and that the disease had erupted from Balochistan and Thal,” Gondal added.
Camel herders have appealed to the Punjab chief minister and government for assistance and have asked the Lahore High Court to take up the issue against the Livestock Department.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2011.