Southern Mongolia: Livestock Reduction Due to Vaccine Overdose

Local authorities in Southern Mongolia have injected animals with an overdose of anthrax vaccine, consequently killing over a hundred sheep, cattle and horses. Herders, whose livelihoods are dependent on livestock, have been adversely affected by the actions described as acts of hatred by one Mongolian herder. 

Since October 23, 2015, at least 2,448 heads of livestock have been injected with an overdose of anthrax vaccine by the local authorities in Bayanhangai Som, Urad Middle Banner of Southern (Inner) Mongolia, in fear of a possible anthrax epidemic. According to local Mongolian herders, over a hundred sheep, cattle, and horses have died because of the overdose vaccine and many have been sickened.

Information about the incident is tightly concealed by the Chinese authorities. At least one Mongolian herder was arrested and detained for protesting the authorities’ intentional killing of their livestock.

“It is very common that livestock occasionally got poisoned with excessive amount of certain plants such as wild onion (allium mongolicum),” Ms. Odongerel, a herder from Urad Middle Banner, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC), “but this has nothing to do with anthrax epidemic.”

“The Deputy Director of the Urad Middle Banner Bureau of Animal Husbandry came to our community and ordered to inject overdose of anthrax vaccine to our livestock immediately upon seeing a couple of horses that had minor food poisoning with wild onion,” said Odongerel in a phone interview with the SMHRIC.

On the morning of November 3, 2015, Odongerel was taken away by the local Public Security Bureau and detained at the Urad Middle Banner Public Security Bureau Detention Center for “spreading rumors and carrying infected animal blood.”

“They confiscated my cell phone, and asked me how many pictures, video clips, and other pieces of relevant information I have transmitted over the Internet about this incidence,” Odongerel said when asked about her recent arrest and detention. “They accused me that I violated certain safety policies by carrying infected animal blood sample.”

To disprove the authorities’ claim of an anthrax epidemic and prove that the massive deaths of livestock is due to an intentional overdose of the anthrax vaccine, local herders attempted to dispatch Odongerel to the regional capital, Hohhot, to examine the blood samples taken from the dead horses and sheep.

“Not only did the Banner Government refuse to take any corrective measure, but also did they block us from taking the blood sample to the Inner Mongolia Agricultural University to have a thorough examination,” Ms. Sarangowaa, another herder from Urad Middle Banner told the SMHRIC. “The government is threatening all herders not to answer any phone calls from journalists about this.”

“One, they did this because they hate us Mongolian herders and our way of life so much. Two, they exaggerated the situation to ask for more money from the higher authorities to deal with the ‘epidemic’,” another Mongolian herder from the effected community told the SMHRIC with anonymity.

As China speeds up its process of opening up rural areas and resettling pastoralists in Southern Mongolia, Mongolian herders from Urad Middle Banner have tirelessly been protesting the Chinese authorities’ illegal appropriation of their grazing lands and violation of their legal rights. Two weeks ago, at least nine Mongolian herders were arrested and detained for staging protests during the Regional Party Secretary Wang Jun’s visit to Urad Middle Banner.
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