By Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu
Over 100 cattle from Ward 19 in Gwanda near Mlambapeli Border Post have been shot in Botswana in the past three weeks after they strayed into the neighbouring country.
In an interview Matabeleland South provincial veterinary officer, Dr Enat Mdlongwa said 112 cattle had been shot over the past three weeks. He said his office was engaging their Botswana counterparts over the issue.
“A total of 112 cattle from Ward 19 in Gwanda which borders with Botswana have been shot in the past three weeks after they strayed into the neighbouring country. This is a huge concern for us a country as these figures are alarming.
“We are continuously engaging our Botswana counterparts over the matter until we find a permanent solution. However, we should also note that Botswana is a sovereign country and we can’t interfere with policies that they put in place,” he said.
Dr Mdlongwa said despite efforts that had been made by the veterinary department to raise awareness among communities people continued to allow their animals to stray into Botswana. He appealed to farmers especially those situated along the border line to take extra care of their cattle.
The councillor of Ward 19, Tompson Makhalima raised concern as many villagers from his ward were losing their cattle after they had strayed into Botswana. He said there were seven villages in his ward which were affected.
Cllr Makhalima said elephants were destroying the fence along the border which made it difficult for villagers to restrain their livestock.
“People from my ward are going through a difficult time as their cattle are being shot after straying into Botswana. This problem has been ongoing for too long and it needs a permanent solution so that people don’t suffer loss.
“Elephants continue to destroy the border fence which creates a way for livestock to stray into Botswana. It’s difficult for people to control their animals under such circumstances. The Botswana officials don’t even notify us after impounding the cattle, we just hear shots as the cattle are being destroyed and they go on to burn them,” he said.
The Veterinary Department in Matabeleland South Province in conjunction with their Botswana counterparts recently held a campaign to educate farmers from the two countries against allowing their livestock to stray. This was to also help contain trans boundary diseases.
The campaign was targeting farmers that are situated along the border line namely those in Bulilima, Mangwe, Matobo, Gwanda and Beitbridge districts as they border Botswana.
It was also held as part of efforts to avoid cases of Zimbabwean animals being destroyed in Botswana after straying into the neighbouring country.
Botswana in 2016 introduced a shoot to kill policy to destroy all cattle that stray into their territory. A number of Zimbabwean animals have been lost as a result of the policy.
Authorities from the neighbouring country pointed out that they had resorted to this policy because the straying of Zimbabwe cattle was affecting their business of exporting beef as the country has had foot and mouth disease outbreaks. The Chronicle