The lumpy skin disease outbreak has hit Rajasthan hard, leaving in its wake thousands of infected cows, carcasses across towns and villages, and the rural economy in ruins
Carcasses being buried at a cow shelter in Jaipur; (Photo: Purushottam Diwakar)
A murder of crows circles at a distance, awaiting an opportunity to dive-bomb a cow’s carcass lying in a freshly dug-up pit, when the knocking noise of a tractor engine leads to a flurry of activity beneath. Three men rush to the vehicle and help its driver lift and dump two more carcasses—dotted with skin lumps just like the first one—into the large pit. As the sky turns from blue to shades of bronze, the tractor makes a dozen rounds, bringing back more dead bovines to fill up the mass grave. When the number piles up to 20, a JCB machine starts covering the mound with soil that it has excavated from an adjoining site. It’s dark by now. The crows have left, and so have the men, leaving behind another gaping hole in the rugged ground. To be filled up tomorrow.