CAMEL DEATHS SPARK ANGER IN SAUDI ARABIA

Thousands of camels have died because of “toxic fodder” over the past month in Saudi Arabia. And breeders, some of whom have lost herds worth millions of dollars, are blaming the agriculture ministry.

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Thousands of camels have died because of “toxic fodder” over the past month in Saudi Arabia. And breeders, some of whom have lost herds worth millions of dollars, are blaming the agriculture ministry. Local press has described the camel deaths as a “national tragedy” since the unexplained “contamination” claimed its first victims in Wadi al-Dawasser, 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of the capital Riyadh, before spreading to other parts of the vast kingdom. Camels, nicknamed “desert ships” and reputed for their sturdiness and resilience, have since been dying in large numbers. Many owners have attributed the deaths to the bran originating from the (state-owned) silos and mills of Khamis Mushayt (the closest to Wadi al-Dawasser) fed to the animals instead of barley, whose price has been spiralling. Wadi al-Dawasser is the worst-hit by the phenomenon. The authorities have sent frozen samples of dead camels to be tested in French laboratories. Agriculture Minister Fahd bin Abdul Rahman Balghnaim said that preliminary results, which will be announced soon, showed the bran was contaminated by poisonous fungi.