The post-mortem on carcasses of 65 cows and calves, found dead in a cattle pound in Rapar taluka of Kutch district on Sunday, has concluded cyanide poisoning as the cause of death. This is the second such incident in Kutch in about a year. The incident took place at the Bakna Vid cattle pound of Shri Jivdaya Mandal, popularly known as Rapar panjrapol, located 7 km from Rapar town. It is a trust running three cattle pounds in Rapar with around 8,000 animals.
Cattle-herders noticed some cows falling unconscious around 7.30 pm. Rajendra Kothari, manager of the mandal, on Tuesday said, “After our caretakers complained of animals falling unconscious, we rushed some veterinarians to the spot. Unfortunately, of 95 sick cows and calves, we could save only 30.”
Rapar witnessed seven inch of rain within a few hours last Thursday and moderate rain continued over the next two days. Earlier it was suspected that flooding of the pound due to the rain caused the incident, but authorities denied it. Shailesh Chaudhary, a government veterinary officer in Rapar clarified, “Post-mortem of the cows established that they died of cyanide poisoning, which had accumulated in green fodder they were fed Saturday afternoon. Cyanide content remains high in tender fodder, and drinking water after consuming such fodder can prove fatal for the cattle. However, these deaths are not related to rain.” Kothari said the millet fodder had come from nearby villages like Kakarva, Adoi and others.
“We require around 10 truck-load of fodder every day. All the animals were given the green fodder on Saturday. But veterinarians told us that drinking water after consuming cyanide-affected fodder could prove fatal. So the cows, which drank water after consuming millet stalks, fell sick and 65 of them died,” he said.
Parts of the arid Kutch district were declared partially scarcity-hit and the state government has been providing relief in form of hay distributed at token rates. Hamir Vaghela, in-charge mamlatdar of Rapar said, “Fodder is being distributed in Rapar as well. We have a grass depot at Fatehgadh. However, not all the panjarapols are buying grass from there.” The government recently amended Gujarat Animal Preservation Act early this year and made slaughter of cow an offence, punishable by life imprisonment and enhanced punishment for sale, storage or transportation of beef.
In April last year, 24 cows and calves had died at Narayan Sarovar Gaushala and Panjrapol at Narayan Sarovar village in Lakhpat taluka of Kutch after eating maize fodder, which had developed nitrite poison due to lack of ventilation after being cut from the field.