A least 50 cows have died at a Vietnamese plantation in Ratanakkiri over the past several weeks, with some officials blaming food poisoning.
The cattle came from Vietnam and belonged to Hoang Anh Andong Meas, a subsidiary of Vietnamese agricultural firm Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
Authorities, experts and locals had different estimates of the death toll. Provincial agriculture director Soy Sona said that only 50 had died, while Phan Bel, a nearby village chief said that at least 80 had died. Local villagers put the number above 300.
“The animals ate palm oil food and they died from poisoning. We don’t know whether the palm oil was sprayed with [chemical] substances,” said Sona, adding that the cows had been burned.
However, a villager speaking on condition of anonymity said he witnessed the carcasses brought out of the company to be sold.
“I saw them transporting dead cows but we were unable to stop it,” confirmed Sre Angkrang commune chief Chhim Sokhim. Traders bought some of the carcasses, he said.
Some local villagers’ cows died during this period as well, from food and water shortages stemming from the drought. But villagers said the plantation had plenty of feed and water.
Hoang Anh Gia Lai director Nguyen Van Thu could not be reached for comment. His assistant said that he was unaware of the deaths.