Villagers in Mondulkiri province’s Sre Chhouk commune, in Keo Seima district, have expressed concern over dying cattle, pointing the blame at water contamination caused by the illegal gold-mining groups in a nearby commune.
Local authorities, however, said the recent rash of deaths and illnesses of their cattle is the result of bacterial infections.
Chork Klout, 28, a member of the Phnong ethnic group and living in Sre Chhouk’s Ptong village, said that a week ago, cattle, including his, in their village and others in the commune started becoming sick and dying for an inexplicable reason.
“I do not know from what both of my buffaloes died. I just know that they ate the grass near the stream and drank the water. Then they got sick and their stomach became swollen and they stopped eating. A few days later, they convulsed, their mouths foamed and they died,” he said.
Sre Chhouk’s commune chief, Ti Khit, confirmed that cattle had been getting sick and dying, estimating that 30 have died and 20 others became sick and were sold to slaughterhouses. He added that the cause of the outbreak was the result of two diseases.
“I have alerted district authorities already. Experts have investigated and administered treatment to prevent the spreading of other diseases from the sick cattle. The experts say the villagers’ cattle died from hemorrhagic septicemia [HS] and blackleg,” Khit said, referring to two bacterial diseases that affect cattle across the globe whose economic impact can be severe.
Khit said the experts who treated the diseased animals advised villagers not to allow their cattle to roam free, explaining that it could spread the disease further. They also advised them not to eat any cattle that died or got sick from the disease, he added.
Keo Seima District Governor Nuon Saran, speaking to The Phnom Penh Post on Monday, dismissed villagers’ concerns about contaminated water from mines, saying the deaths were not related to the ongoing water investigation occurring in neighbouring Kratie province.