Dead Camel Mystery Thickens

I smell a Zionist plot! 


ASYAH, 2 September 2007 — Following deaths of over 2,000 camels across the Kingdom, especially in Wadi Al-Dawaser, 14 camels were reported dead in the Asyah governorate in the northeastern part of Qasim.

Zaid ibn Abdulmohsen Al-Fuhaid told Arab News yesterday that 14 of his camels died. “I’ve informed the Ministry of Agriculture office in Asyah about the deaths of my camels. I’ve no idea how or why they died,” he said.

Speaking about reports in the Saudi press that the deaths may have been caused by contaminated bran, Al-Fuhaid ruled out such a possibility. “Bran has nothing to do with the deaths of my camels,” he said, adding that he does not use bran as fodder for his camels.

The Agriculture Ministry office in Asyah sent a vet to examine the dead animals. “He took blood samples,” said Al-Fuhaid.

Another 14 camels died this week in Zulfi, some 100 kilometers east of Asyah. “I bought bran 20 days ago,” said Muhammad ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Omar, the owner of the dead camels. “Then the camels died one after another,” he added.

“I changed the location of camels in the desert hoping that would help, but to no avail,” he said. “I consulted the Ministry of Agriculture office in Zulfi but they have no clear answer as to the reason behind the deaths,” he added.

Camel-owners in Qasim have called on the Ministry of Agriculture to ascertain the cause of death as soon as possible. “We are very concerned that the deaths of camels in Qasim is just a continuation of what had happened in Wadi Al-Dawaser,” Al-Fuhaid said. “There has to be an answer to these mysterious deaths,” he added.

Meanwhile, the demand for camel meat has decreased, according to butchers and restaurants. Camel meat and milk is popular in the Kingdom.

Camel deaths have so far been reported in the Riyadh region’s Wadi Al- Dawasir and Al-Sulayl areas, Makkah, Asir, Najran, Jizan and now in Qasim.

Agriculture Minister Dr. Fahd Balghunaim said last week that the bran produced as feed for camels was not infected or contaminated.

He added that the feed had been poisoned outside the factory where it is produced. “We are working in collaboration with our technical experts and laboratories outside the Kingdom in order to identify the toxic substance in the feed. Only then can we take counter-measures to solve the problem. We also want to know where the material came from,” he said.

The minister said a common factor in all the deaths was that their fodder feedstock was bran. “We took bran samples from locations where these camels died and subjected them to tests in the veterinary laboratories.”

The Kingdom’s camel population is estimated at 850,000. Ministry officials point out that camel breeding in the Kingdom is undertaken for various purposes — racing, milk, and also for beauty contests.

Some owners did not bury the animals out of apprehension that they might not be eligible for compensation in the absence of any evidence. The stench emanating from the carcasses raised concerns that they could infect other animals or even humans. As a preventive measure, a technical team sprayed them with germicide to fight the spread of possible infection. In addition, the carcasses of dead camels whose owners have received compensation have been buried.

The increasing deaths of camels have sent shockwaves among limited income farmers who depend on these animals for their daily bread. In order to compensate their losses, Prince Abdul Rahman, deputy minister of defence and aviation, donated 300 of his camels.

Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman, last week instructed officials to postpone a camel contest in Wadi Al-Dawaser following the death of several camels there. – AN


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