PT Report | Photographs: Bakhtawar Hussain
Mrs. Bas Begum, a resident of Ishkoman Valley in the Ghizar district of Gilgit-Baltistan region has lost 15 of her goats so far. She is worried because of the economic losses and sad because of her love for the goats that she reared for a long time in the resource constrained region. But, she does not know anything about the disease that is killing the goats one by one.
All that Bas Begum and other residents of her village can say are that they are in dire need of help.
The goats in this village of Ishkoman are dying fast in large numbers. The symptoms of the still unknown disease identified by a team of surveyors and the locals are; 1) excessive coughing, 2) liver getting filled with water and puss, 3) blackening of one side of the liver, 4) appearance of whitish worms in the liver, and 5) blindness among the goats.
The locals in Ishkoman Valley of Ghizar have claimed that around 3,000 goats have died after getting similar symptoms. They have been using different medicines, but there doesnot seem to be any respite from the disease. The economic and social cost of this disease is enormous.
Bakhtawar Hussain, who runs a wildlife protection company called WWT (www.wakhanwt.com), says that he has visited the Ishkoman valley on request of the community to study the situation.
“We are also worried about the safety of the wildlife”, he said. “The disease can spread to the wild animals not only in Ishkoman Valley but also the adjacent valleys which are rich in wildlife”. He added that some cases of goats dying due to similar disease in Chipursan and Boroghil Valley have been reported.
Bakhtawar further said that the people living in the far flung areas need attention of the relevant government and non-governmental organizations. “If we are able to help them, then we will not only be curing the disease of the animals, but also help them retain important sources of their livelihood”, he said.
He said that he has received the photograph of a Markhor which may have been affected with the same disease. He feared that the disesae might spread to other carnivores and herbivores in the entire region if a solution is not found.
Introducing his organization, Hussain said that WWT is working across Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral or promotion and protection of wildlife species in the area.