IN a case that has attracted the ire of farmers, the Botswana government has killed and burnt more than 400 cattle that strayed into that country from Zimbabwe in just over a month.
The Botswana government, which is seeking to protect its quota of beef export to the European Union engaged Zimbabwe early this year and vowed that they will shoot any cattle that will stray into the country to guard against the spread of the Foot and Mouth disease.
Authorities from the neighbouring country started shooting cattle that strayed into their territory on the first week of September. According to information obtained from the Department of Livestock Production and Development (DLPD), more than 400 cattle have been shot and had their carcasses burnt by the Botswana authorities.
The data showed that Beitbridge District has been the most affected as farmers in the area have lost 396 beasts that strayed into Botswana. In Mangwe, 11 cattle were shot and burnt. The figure could be higher as the department indicated that it was still collating figures in Gwanda and Bulilima districts.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Deputy Minister responsible for livestock Cde Paddy Zhanda said while the development was not good to farmers and the country, it was upon the farmers and communities that live close to the Botswana border to ensure they look after their livestock.
“It (the shooting) is not nice, people should look after their cattle to avoid losses. We might need to visit the affected areas soon to sensitise them,” he said.
DLPD Matabeleland South provincial livestock specialist Mrs Simangaliphi Ngwabi urged farmers to adhere to proper livestock management techniques through ensuring that their cattle do not encroach onto the Botswana side.
“Botswana officials informed us that they would shoot cattle that strayed into their border and the Deputy Minister (Zhanda) went on a campaign sensitising farmers at all border areas to desist from letting their animals stray into the neighbouring country. We can’t put the blame on Botswana for shooting our cattle because they issued a three months warning before starting the shooting.
“They can’t risk losing their EU export licence because our farmers have let their cattle cross into their borders. Their economy is largely driven by trading in beef, business is business and as such we shouldn’t play a part in them losing their EU quota. We therefore advise our farmers to adhere to proper livestock management which entails checking the movement of their animals from time to time,” Mrs Ngwabi said.
Another livestock specialist, Mr Mhlupheki Dube reiterated Mrs Ngwabi’s sentiments saying there was nothing sinister about the shooting of cattle that would have crossed into Botswana as the neighbouring country was making efforts to protect its niche market.
“They are protecting their market which has set standards to meet. It’s our farmers’ responsibility to look after their cattle, it’s not Botswana’s. Although it is painful for our farmers to lose their livestock they have to acknowledge that Botswana is protecting their business interests and by trespassing our animals will be tampering with their bio-security systems,” said Mr Dube.
Source: Sunday News