Gandhidham (Kutch, Gujarat): A stray dog is tugging at a half-eaten cow carcass that lies on a plot of land.
The carcass was dumped here by the local administration. The cow, like many others here, died of lumpy skin disease (LSD) now dotting the streets here.
Caused by a capripox virus, LSD is a viral disease that affects both cows and buffaloes. It has, according to official reports, claimed more than 3,000 cattle in nine districts of Rajasthan and at least 14 districts of Gujarat.
But locals who have been working to treat the animals suggest that numbers could be much higher.
ThePrint witnessed 18 deaths at a single camp in Gandhidham in just one evening.
The streets here are full of infected and untreated cattle too, increasing the risk of spread.
Unable to keep up with the death toll, local gau rakshaks (or cow ‘protectors’) have dug mass graves where cattle that have succumbed to the disease are dumped day after day.
Supported by NGOs, gaurakshaks, religious organisations, and leaders from Vishva Hindu Parishad and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Sewa Sadhna, volunteers from the community have come forward to collect, medicines and food for the cattle.
But local sources allege that most of the spread has been among stray cattle that have been abandoned on the streets after they stopped giving milk.
With a ban on cow slaughter in the state, the number of such strays has risen in the state over the last few years.