Botswana changes approach

Instead, the country has resolved to vaccinate the cattle, particularly in the Bobirwa area, where between 400 and 500 beasts have been detected with the foot and mouth disease. The shift comes at a cost to the cattle beef industry in the country. Botswana stands to lose millions of pula in exports because the EU pays much high prices for beef than other markets in the region, which the country will continue doing business with. The Botswana Meat Commission has not been able to meet its quota to the EU and this further reduces the number of areas in Botswana that supply the EU. Botswana Agriculture minister Johnnie Swartz said it was costly to destroy and restock the cattle in the area, especially that the Bobirwa area was prone to the sporadic outbreaks of the disease. This is why vaccination has always been an option in this regard, he said. Swartz said cattle in the Bobirwa area would continue to sustain the rural economy in terms of milk and meat. To contain the disease, the government would put up a 2,4 metre high fence around the Selebi-Phikwe veterinary district, known as Zone Seven, to compartmentalise the whole zone. The area covers Serule, Mmadinare, Seleb-Phikwe and Sefophe up to Mashatu veterinary entry point. An 80km double fence between Dikgathong and Foley to close the gap between the Selebi-Phikwe and Francistown veterinary districts is being erected. The government has also decided that any foot and mouth vaccinated cattle found outside the Selebi-Phikwe veterinary district be immediately destroyed without compensation while all feral or free ranging pigs within the district would also be destroyed. Stray cattle within the said zone that were not vaccinated during the first two vaccinations would also be destroyed without compensation to reduce the incidence of repeated outbreaks. Farmers were also advised to slaughter infected cattle which are within Zone Seven. Meanwhile, lions, which have been terrorising farmers at the Sandveld Ranches since March this year, have killed 103 livestock. Central District Wildlife coordinator, Gift Otumile, told Botswana Press Agency that his office received 60 reports in March in which 70 heads of cattle were killed. Eleven cases which claimed the lives of 24 livestock were lodged in April. He said that since the beginning of May, six incidents have been reported in which nine the two prides of lions have made lives of the livestock and those of residents of the ranches ‘ which include Makhibamabedi, Mhatane, Daujenaa, Sanome, Gaetshonye and Kanaoo ranches ‘ a living hell. The area is located about 80km west of Serowe on the edge of the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve. He said investigations revealed that one pride comprised four lions while the other consisted of two lions and a cub. Nevertheless, he said, there has been a decrease in livestock killings since the beginning of March and attributed this to the presence of wildlife officers in the area. He said though game rangers have managed to drive the lions away from the farms the officers recently came across a spoor of a grown male lion during their patrols, an indication that the lion was still roaming the area. Otumile advised farmers to protect their livestock by among others using a generator and installing lighting bulbs around their kraals to scare away the predators. He urged farmers, who have not fenced their ranches with strong materials, to do so to avoid predators from entering their grazing land. He said farmers who have lost their livestock have been compensated according to their species. He said they could not kill the predators because it would be against the law as lions and cheetahs were endangered species and urged farmers not to kill the animals but rather to use methods prescribed to scare them away and to call the wildlife personnel for assistance.

May 2006
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