The post-mortem on carcasses of 65 cows and calves which died in a cattle pound in Rapar taluka of Kutch district on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, has found cyanide poisoning as the cause of their death. Earlier it was suspected to be flooding of the pound, but authorities said the incident was not related to heavy rain witnessed in that area last week. This is second such incident in Kutch in about a year.
The incident took place at Bakna Vid cattle pound of Shri Jivdaya Mandal (SJM), popularly known as Rapar panjrapol and located some 7 km away from Rapar town late Saturday evening after a rainy day. Cattle-herders noticed some cows collapsing all of a sudden at around 7:30 pm and falling unconscious. “After our caretakers at Bakna Vid pound complained of animals falling unconscious, we rushed some veterinarians to the spot and started treatment of around 80 cows and cow calves which had been affected. Unfortunately, we could save around 30 only while 65 of them died,” said Rajendra Kothari, manager of SJM told The Indian Express on Tuesday.
SJM is a trust running three cattle pounds in Rapar and taking care of around 8,000 animals. It has its other pounds in Rapar town and on Dabhuda road near Rapar.
Rapar too was pounded by seven inch of rain within a few hours on Thursday and moderate rain had continued over the two subsequent days. However, veterinary officers clarified that the deaths of cows were not due to heavy rain. “Post-mortem of the cows established that they had died to due cyanide poisoning which had accumulated in green fodder they had been fed Saturday afternoon. Cyanide content remains high in tender fodder and drinking water after consuming such fodder can prove fatal for cattle. However, these deaths are not related to rain,” said Shailesh Chaudhary, a government veterinary officer in Rapar.
Kothari said that the fodder of millet had come from nearby villages like Kakarva, Adoi etc. “We require around 10 truck-load of fodder every day. All the animals were given green fodder of millet on Saturday. But veterinarians told us that drinking water after consuming cyanide affected fodder could prove fatal. So those cows which drank water after consuming millet stalks were affected and a few of them died,” he said.
Many parts of the arid Kutch district were declared partially scarcity-hit and the state government has been providing relief in form of distributing hay at token rates. “The fodder distribution is going in Rapar also. We ?h?ave a grass depot at Fatehgadh. However, not all the panjarapols are buying grass from there,” Hamir Vaghela, in-charge mamlatdar of Rapar said.
The incident comes close on the heels of the state government’s sensitivity towards the cow. It recently amended Gujarat Animal Preveservation 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. The state government also paid Rs 4.39 lakh to farmers who lost 15 bovines in flash floods in Tankara taluka of Morbi district last year.
This is second incident of cows dying due to fodder poisoning. In April last year, 24 cows and calves had died at Narayan Sarovar Gaushala and Panjrapol at Narayan Sarovar village in Lakhpat taluka in western Kutch after eating maize fodder which had developed nitrite poison for lack of ventilation after cutting from field. Before that, 17 cows had died at Sheth Anandji Kalyanji Chhapariyali Panjarapol Sarvajani Trust in Chhapariyali village of Bhavnagar after nitrate poisoning following a meal of green maize fodder in February last year.