An investigation is underway to determine what caused 16 cows from two Preah Vihear province villages to drop dead over the course of several weeks, authorities confirmed today.
A dozen of the deaths occurred on Saturday in Cheb district’s M’lou Prey II commune and Sangke II commune.
Phav Yorn, a Kuoy ethnic villager, said that three of his cows died. He said villagers had let cows graze at the sugar plantation owned by the company Rui Feng and to drink water in nearby ponds, where they were later found dead and bleeding from the mouth. Although they were then sold to local villagers for meat, he claimed nobody had reported health problems.
Pean Phat, a villager from Brees Ka’ork village, said that an additional four cows had died two weeks ago. Phat said villagers had concluded that the water in the ponds near the plantation must have been poisoned.
“The poison was poured on the water sources ... nearby the sugarcane plantation…and the cow died when it drank the water, but we do not know who poured the poison,” he said, adding that a similar phenomenon had occurred during the last dry season, though no perpetrator was ever identified.
Khiev Yen, the Sangke II commune chief, said he suspected the poisoning of the ponds was done by local villagers who do so to kill wildlife in the dry season as a form of hunting.
“Our local people use the poison to hunt birds for food, when the cows drank the water, they got poisoned… we also found some remains of dead herons at the site,” he said.
Soksan Dara, the Cheb district governor said an investigation is underway by local department of agriculture officials, and refrained from making any conclusions before seeing their report.
Officials from the provincial department of agriculture could not be reached for comment.