Monday, February 28, 2011

Role of Camel in Suleiman Mountainous Region of Pakistan

Suleiman region is situated in the northeastern mountainous belt of Balochistan Province of Pakistan. Livestock farming has been a centuries old occupation of a vast majority of the population in Suleiman region. It was the only source of food winning for most of the households; hence all the family members were used to graze their livestock. The livestock farmers follow a regular pattern of seasonal migration. Livestock raising communities live throughout the region, especially in the mountainous areas. 

Women help feeding animals at home if fodder is available and do the milking and taking care of young and sick animals. By grazing the animals women and children share in the economic burden of the household. On the other hand, it deprives the children of getting an education, which is a basic constitutional right of every child. This survey was aimed at to highlight the characteristics of the camel breeds available in this area and to know better about their role in the life of the herders of Suleiman region. Camels are an animal genetic resource and constitute an indispensable natural resource in Suleiman region that must be properly managed. Many studies praised their unique characteristics especially under the most stressful conditions and rugged mountains.

A fatal Respiratory Camel Disease

A highly contagious respiratory disease was first reported from Washuk, Dalbandin and Panjgur (Chaghai Kaharan desert) districts of Balochistan province of Pakistan in the month of July, 2010. The disease was frivolously taken as the results of the dust storm and dry spells. According to the history, the disease was spread with the dust fill winds after the long drought period in the driest areas of the province of Balochistan and adjoining areas of Iran and Afghanistan. In other areas the disease was spread by the marketed and migrated animals. The signs and symptoms of the disease are comprised of white sticky mucus nasal discharge, nasal blockage with thick scar formation (partially plugging) on nasal orifice, no regurgitation, ultimately the animal goes off feed. A treatment with Amoxicillin Trihydrate (150 mg per ml) at the dose rate of 1ml per 10kg body weight was provided by local veterinarians and other practitioners. A single shot of the above said antibiotic recovered the animal within 12 hour. All the physiological activity restored within 24 hours.
Picture of an affected camel from Sibi Balochistan

The second report came from the Suleiman Mountainous region and Thar Desert of Sind of Pakistan with the same sign and symptoms. The disease did not cause any mortality but was highly epidemic and caused high level of morbidity. The disease responds quick and positively to penicillin. The animal treated recovered in 3 days. The third and alarming report came from Cholistan Desert and southern part of KPK of Pakistan. That testimony was frightening with high mortality. Also a high mortality was also reported from Western Indian state of Rajasthan. Some additional signs were also reported; like sudden death after the onset of the disease and water omission from the mouth of the dead animal just after the death.
Symptoms of the Disease
The symptoms reported from Chaghai Kharan and other parts of Balochistan, Sindh and adjoining areas of KPK were summarized from the reports (sent from the veterinarians from the field) and personal observation of the sick animals brought from the affected areas in the camel market at Quetta are as following.

· Transmission through man and animals
· No age restriction
· Sign appear within 24 hours after introduction of an animal or herd men from the affected areas
· Highly contagious
· Dullness and depression and loss of appetite.
· Nasal blockage with thick scar formation (partially plugging) on nasal orifice
· Nasal discharge opaque in color and blockage make a hard scar
· Coughing and some animal do open mouth breathing
· Gradual loss in body weight until the disease exists
· Recover within 21 days naturally, if not treated
· Animal recover when the pus discharge from ear (some camel herders observation) and the pus color is bluish white
· Salivation increase during the disease period
· Pus like laceration from the eyes during disease
· Mortality is very rare in Balochistan but reported from the southern part of KPK
· In KPK, some herders observed about 10% mortality in camel herds, which occurs suddenly
The signs and symptoms reported from Cholistan desert of Pakistan were somewhat different and are presented in the ensuing lines.
· The disease is highly epidemic and about 80% of the camel herd was affected
· Sticky white nasal discharge
A dead animal with the new disease in Cholistan (courtesy Dr Sohail Khan)
· A blood tint nasal discharge was observed
· The sick animal usually keeps their head upward
· The animal goes emaciated and weak
· The mortality rate is high
· The death occurs within three days after the onset of the disease.
Postpartum Findings
The postmortem findings were reported from a field veterinarian (Sohail Khan) along with the pictures of sick and dead animals. Larynx of the dead camel was swollen and the whole trachea was lacerated. The lungs were filled with sticky exudates. There were black spots on the lungs and were fused with the ribs. Whole the respiratory tract was filled with the blood tint sticky materials.
Laboratory finding
The only laboratory finding of the disease reported from scientists in Central Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (CVDL), Tandojam Sindh. According to the findings, Bacterium (Pasturralla) was responsible for this disease, though other types of bacterium like Streptococci were also found in the samples. The same findings are also reported from the laboratory findings from BZU Multan. But still we cannot reach to final conclusion either the disease is viral or bacterial. The findings for bacterial positive can be link with the secondary bacterial infection.
The Scientists say that the symptoms described could point to a respiratory viral infection with bacterial complications taking into account the contagiousness nature of the outbreak. However, they said, it is hard to come up with a definitive diagnosis unless one confirm by laboratory methods. The positive response of the disease to Penicillin might be link with the secondary bacterial infection.
Hanwant Singh of LPPS in Rajasthan from a famous camel keeping community of Raika reported about camel respiratory disease with many camels dying. According to him disease is reported from all corner of the Rajasthan. In contrary to Chaghai Kharan desert, the Raika pastoral of Rajasthan doubt that the disease might be link with the massive rain fall in last moon soon (2010). The disease comes along with nasal discharge and the Animal husbandry department is calling it "bronchopneumonia". Ilse Kohler Rollefson, project director of the LPP in Rajasthan reported that hundreds or more likely thousands of camels are currently dying in India and Pakistan and maybe adjoining countries due to the outbreak of a mysterious respiratory disease to which there is no organized response and which has not been diagnosed.
Bernard Faye, France from the famous institute of CIRAD commented on the disease and said that probably there is bacterial contamination but the origin of the disease is probably viral.
There is no doubt that the disease is viral but I doubt if it is PPR. The signs of PPR are quite different, i.e. diarrhea, laceration, gums decomposition and severe emaciation etc.
The scientists in CVDL Tandojam, after lab examination revealed that a Bacterium (pasturralla) was responsible for this disease, though other types of bacterium like Streptoccoi were also found in the samples.
According to Dr. Abdelmalik I. Khalafalla, from Syria, similar respiratory killing disease was reported in Sudan, Ethiopia and kenya (1996-2006) and after lab investigations it turns to be caused by PPR virus, a morbillivirus of the Paramyxoviridae. He advised to send swabs, lymph node and lungs samples to CIRAD or IAEA laboratories for lab diagnosis. In case it a PPR in camel’s susceptible, non infected camels may be vaccinated with sheep PPR vaccine, the same stopped the progress of the disease in Sudan. He said that he is ready to assist.
Renaud Lancelot from CIRAD, France, affirmed that he at CIRAD is very much interested and ready to collaborate. He further suggested that it would also be important to check other pathogens such as Pasteurella and Mycoplasma, the latter being difficult to diagnose. He further offered that samples could be to CIRAD, and they will share samples with Adama Diallo at IAEA.

I would suggest you advise Vet authorities in the affected areas to collect lymph nodes and lungs from dead animals and nasal swabs from clinically sick camels and submit for lab diagnosis by PCR and ELISA. Kindly read the abstract on PPR in camels and let me know about the epidemiology of the disease in Pakistan. I also received similar observation from Iran. Let us establish a network to assist in exchange information on camel diseases. The international scientists suggested that the veterinarians in the affected areas might collect lymph nodes and lungs from dead animals and nasal swabs from clinically sick camels and submit for lab diagnosis by PCR and ELISA.
The Swedish scientists of SVA, Kerstin and Set proposed a task force and also a detailed and practical operating manual for sampling (information from animal keepers and clinical examination), how to sample, which animals to sample, how to submit samples, what to analyze, how to interpret results and how to act depending on the interpretation) would be useful. The manual should be useful not just for these respiratory disease outbreaks but also for other infectious diseases, to be prepared for future outbreaks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Role of indigenous livestock breeds in the livelihood earning of the Chaghai Kharan desert dwellers

Balochistan is the largest province and makes about 44% of the total geographical area of the country. Most of the area is rangelands with only 5% arable. Livestock is one of the major important sectors of the Province housing about 20% of the national stock. However, with the little manufacturing and under developed infrastructure, the provincial economy lags far behind than other parts of the country and the situation in Chaghi Kharan region is even worse than the other parts of the province. Animal agriculture is the centuries old occupation of the people residing in Balochistan, especially Chaghi Kharan ecology. The region is the cradle of many precious livestock breeds i.e. Kharani camel, Rakhshani sheep, Morak and Khurasani goat, playing important role in the socio-cultural and socioeconomic verve of its inhabitants. The exact value of such precious animal genetic resource has never been realized and yet, no serious steps have been taken for its improvement.
The well adapted livestock breeds of the region can be use as tool against poverty, malnutrition, affect of creeping desertification and global warming. These livestock species are not only important for food and agriculture in the present but also important as building blocks of the future animal genetic resources. Besides having such precious resources the livestock keepers are still sinking in the sea of poverty and yet very scanty efforts had been done to strengthen them. The main causes of the being rich but poor livestock keepers are the illiteracy, poor government and NGOs support, negligence in the research and development policies of the public sector, poor marketing, neglected livestock products and many more. Any effort for the development of the livestock sector in the region cannot be successful until the local livestock breeds are not involved, because of the adaptation of the local breeds to the desert ecology. The animals of different species distributed by Government and different NGOs for the development of livestock production and poverty elevation completely failed because of the inadequate knowledge about the local breeds’ characteristics and ecological features. This study was therefore, conducted to know the potential of the local livestock breeds and to find the ways to develop the region by strengthening of local animal genetic resources and its keepers. The study was conducted in 3 districts of the region, i.e. Chaghai, Kharan and Washuk.
A total of 170 respondents were interviewed on a pre-tested questionnaire to obtain data about livestock share in family income, herd size and structure, type of husbandry, marketing issues and women role etc. It was found that the livestock was grazed by owners themselves and most of the owner were illiterate. In the existing livestock production system the number of goats is higher, followed by camel and sheep in the region calculated on the livestock unit (LSU) basis. It was revealed that mountainous areas are inhabited by goat, plain/semi irrigated areas by sheep and desert by camel. Again on LSU basis, in the region has the largest herd/flock size of goat followed by camel and finally sheep. The majority of the inhabitants of the region depend on livestock and more than 90% of the livestock keeper’s major activity was livestock keeping. Production system is transhumant (41%), followed by sedentary (48%) and the rest is nomadic (11%). The main purpose of the livestock keeping was the livelihood earning followed by heritage and recreation. The livestock keepers do not sale their animals routinely but sell when need cash for family needs. The animals play role as bank on hooves and the family needs are fulfilled by selling their animals. The average prices of the animals sold last year were as camel, sheep and goat PKR 52500, 4625 and 3800 respectively. The health facility for the livestock is rarely available and animals are treated and vaccinated only in the areas close to the facility. In most of the cases the herder does treat the animals themselves with ethnoveterinary medicines (EVM). The common diseases of the region are pox, foot and mouth disease, pluro-pneumonia, enterotoxaemia and trypanosomiasis. The women are sole responsible for the care and management at home. They usually process the livestock products especially milk and wool and the income goes to them.

Importance of Indigenous Livestock Breeds! a look in Balochistan

Balochistan province comprises of arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL), makes about 44% of the total geographical area of the country. Only 5% is arable and the rest is rangelands. Livestock is one of the major important sectors, and housing about 20% of the national stock of Pakistan. Province is the cradle of many precious livestock breeds and play pivotal role in the socio-cultural and socioeconomic life of its inhabitants. Animal genetic resource provides a major source of livelihood and mean of utilization of marginal environments not suitable for cultivation. The Animal genetic resources are the building blocks for future livestock development that will enable livestock keepers to respond to changes in animal production circumstances and new consumers preferences. The livestock genetic diversity is the product of local environmental conditions combined with the breeding strategies of traditional communities. Interspecies biodiversity is the outcome of many different communities managing livestock in many different habitats and ecological zones. The ability of livestock to survive natural calamities (droughts, climatic extremes) is necessarily more important than high productivity. Also local livestock breeds are embodied with indigenous knowledge which is an important human resource for animal breeding and precious heritage for the inhabitants.
These precious and important livestock breeds, we have in hand are currently under threat and disappearing even before documentation. There are many reasons for this sad state of situation i.e. war and conflicts (some breeds are maintained on the basis of regular migration according to the season and foliage availability and the wars and conflicts minimize the herds movements), epidemic diseases, urbanization and cross breeding, changing livestock systems from subsistence (extensive) to commercial (intensive), lack of valuation of local breeds, increasing competition for natural resources, environmental degradation and global warming. Economic forces of globalization as well as political backing for crossbreeding with exotic breeds, among other factors, have already resulted in the disappearance of a large number of these breeds and many more are threatened globally. There is utmost need of time to characterize and document these breeds according to the perspectives of their own livestock keepers. Only the respective livestock keepers know the important traits of their animal genetic resources. This study was therefore, conducted to characterize and document the indigenous animal genetic resources in the livestock keepers’ perspectives. A survey was conducted on the basis of the ecological zones and each zone with the relevant livestock breeds was discussed accordingly. A Performa was designed for each species and the relevant breeders were interviewed. The breeders were selected on the basis of the willingness, availability, indigenous knowledge, area of the breed and accessibility etc. Questions asked were mainly about the socioeconomic importance, breeding goals, breed features, special traits, marketing, population size and trend. The biometry was conducted with a tape meter of the mature animals of camel breed in the morning time when their bellies were empty. A color illustrated table was used as a standard for the name of the color of the breed and was further verified the color while in the group discussions with the herders in a feedback seminar. It was found that there are six ecological zones on the basis of livestock types, production systems and penology. In each zone there were camel, goat sheep but some ecological zones also have the donkey, horses and cattle. Camel is one of the important animals and is under threat in many ecological zones. The last drought had badly affected livestock production systems and some species like cattle and sheep were adversely influenced. The sheep and cattle population is again increasing in number. All the livestock species have obtained high values and economic potentials as the prices of milk, meat and draft animals have increased many folds. It was concluded that value addition to livestock products, niche marketing and ecotourism can be the good tools for the livestock improvement and poverty reduction in such livestock production systems.