Uzbekistan Refutes Allegations Made on NBC/Dateline Report
The Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources takes aim at the shows depiction of the production and slaughter of Karakul lamb.
Uzbek Karakul Company
Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources
Republic of Uzbekistan
1b, Shahjahon Stz., Tashkent 700100
Tel: 8-3712, 53-10-05, 53-17-04 Fax: 53-11-14
22.02.2001 No. 52/01-59
The Company “Uzbek Korakuli” has been established according to the decision of the Government within the frames of the ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of the Republic Uzbekistan. The main targets of “Uzbek Korakuli” is to control preserving in Republic the elite pedigree livestock (genofund), to realize single technological and investment policy in the sphere of improvement of pasture conditions, implementation of progressive production technologies, collecting, processing of Karakul skins and manufacturing of Karakul cooperative farms and enterprises in the Republic.
Background to Statement.
We have read a transcript of, and have also seen, the NBC/Dateline program shown in the United States on Monday 11th December 2000. The program includes an interview with Mr. Rick Swain, the chief investigator for the Humane Society of the United States, and footage taken by him and members of his group when visiting a broadtail production farm in Uzbekistan.
Purpose of Statement.
The purpose of this statement is to question and refute a number of very serious allegations which were made during the program concerning the production of Karakul and Broadtail in Uzbekistan and to bring to light important information concerning HSUS’s visit to this country.
1. The reporter, Chris Hansen, states that “an estimated quarter of a million sleek broadtail coats, skirts, pants etc.” are being sold in stores in the USA.
We seriously question this figure. In our country, broadtail production was only 4,700 skins in 2000. We do not know the overall figure worldwide, but it will be very low because of the nature of the production. It is practically impossible to produce the very high figure quoted in the program (covering US sales only) from the small number of skins available.
2. Mr. Hansen states that Karakul lambs are only produced for their fur.
This is incorrect. Nearly half of the Uzbek territory is covered in droughty lands and here live more than 2 million people. The Karakul breed of sheep is one of the oldest. It was received in the Bukhara oasis due to centuries-long selection and is very well adapted to the rough conditions of desert and semi-desert zones. The Karakul breed of sheep, adapted to all-year round pasture up-keeping, is bred in these conditions and provides the population with an ecologically pure mutton, lamb’s meat, as well as Karakul, sheepskins and wool. Out of the aggregate revenue received from the Karakul production 65 – 67% constitutes meat, 20 – 24% Karakul skins, the rest falls on wool and sheepskins.
The strategy of Karakul production is based on the sustainable use of pastures. The total population of Karakul sheep in 2000 was just over 4 million sheep. To reduce the impact on the vegetation, one part of the newly born animals – usually, small rams – must be sent to the slaughterhouse within a few days of being born. They provide Karakul skins as well as delicate meat. The meat is in fact highly valued.
3. Mr. Swain states that “the most valuable broadtail pelts come from baby lambs that are taken from their mothers by killing the mothers anywhere from 30 days before their natural birth date up to right the day before.”
In Uzbekistan “broadtail” skins are received incidentally as a result of natural abortions of dead embryo, or stillborn lambs due to malnutrition on the pastures or illness in the adult ewe. As previously stated, very few Broadtail skins are produced. The meat is not suitable for eating.
4. Mr. Hansen refers to the visit of Mr. Swain to Uzbekistan in the early part of 2000 when he “posed as a buyer for a chain of American stores.” He says that Mr. Swain visited a broadtail production farm where “Swain and his group were allowed to shoot video openly.” The footage is said to show “workers beheading the mother ewe, then cutting the unborn fetus from her womb after her death.”
These are the facts concerning the HSUS visit:
The company “Uzbek Korakuli” is not informed about the visit of HSUS representatives. As buyers they should have registered with our organization. Neither Mr. Swain, nor people from his group “presented themselves as buyers.” Actually Mr. Swain and his group visited as tourists at the end of February, 2000 the household, situated approximately 630 km from Tashkent in the Burhars region.
Having thoroughly investigated the matter, we can confirm that the killing sequence in the footage was staged. The sequence was taken at the request of HSUS representatives, following a scenario suggested by them. The farm workers (Hasan, Zakir, Mutfullo, Fachretdin) were asked personally by the HSUS representatives to bring a sheep, cut off its head and remove the unborn lamb.
This method of killing is not practiced in our country. The slaughter of sheep and lambs in Uzbekistan is carried out by the method called “halol”, i.e. by means of cutting the neck blood-vessel at the bottom part of the head, which causes the full loss of blood and death of the animal. After that, the skin is pulled off, and the entrails and head are taken away. Only this sequence enables the meat of the animal to be eaten.
It should be noted that the killing sequence in the film took place on the production area of the feeding complex (shirkat) “Zirabad”. Normally, no slaughtering ever takes place in the production area.
We believe that a full retraction of these allegations should be made by NBC/Dateline.
The facts we have presented concerning the production and slaughter of Karakul lamb and sheep are in accordance with the “Statement in Lieu of Oath” given by the Chief of Uzbek Republican Production Union “Karakul” on 16th August, 1991.
The Chairman of the company