THE Choma District Veterinary Office on Saturday culled 71 livestock belonging to a farmer of Pemba district.
Speaking in Macha where the livestock was intercepted following a tip-off from local farmers who suspected that they might hav been moved from a Foot and Mouth Disease buffer zone, Choma district livestock and fisheries coordinator Dr Alex Hachangu said the animals were being taken from Pemba – an FMD-infected area – to Mumbwa.
“The animals slaughtered include 32 cattle, 28 sheep and 11 goats all valued at K138,000,” he explained.
Dr Hachangu disclosed that members of the community alerted the veterinary officers after suspecting that the animals were not from the area.
He said two of the animals in the herd had advanced clinical symptoms of FMD.
“This is in view of the ban of animal movement that government effected in February due to the Foot and Mouth Disease. The slaughtered animals were from Pemba, an area affected with Foot and Mouth and were destined for Mumbwa through Mang’unza area,” Dr Hachangu said.
He said the action was in line with the health Act No. 27 of 2010 which provides for the clearance of all animals moving from one district to another by the veterinary department. Dr Hachangu explained that the ministry had no other choice at the time of the exercise because the animals could not be quarantined due to the advanced symptoms discovered in two of them.
“The carcasses have been taken to a nearest abattoir in Mbabala since there was a cold room while we await for court to auction the carcasses,” said Dr Hachangu.
He added that the farmer was likely to be charged for abetting the spread of the disease which attracted a jail sentence if found guilty in the courts of law.
“As the department, we commend the community for being cooperative and alerting us in good time. Government is losing a lot of money on this vaccine because it is very expensive and no single farmer can afford to buy it and we are buying it from Botswana,” Dr Hachangu said.
“It is not found here and seeing a farmer breaking the law with impunity is heartbreaking because the disease had potential to wipe out all animals in the province if measures are not taken. Just a few weeks ago we vaccinated animals against FMD in Pemba and Choma but that particular farmer did not vaccinate his animals, and now this means that we have to go back again because other animals have been exposed now.”
He said so far about 3,000 animals were exposed to FDM as a result of the farmer’s careless action.
Dr Hachangu said the farmer would lose everything as proceeds of the auctioned carcasses would be deposited in Control 99, a government account.
“The carcasses are kept under specific cold room temperature for 48 hours to suppress the FMD virus before they can be declared fit for human consumption,” said Dr Hachangu.
Meanwhile, Keme Syantumbe, owner of the stock, who could not hold his emotions. He described the incident as a death sentence adding that his entire life depended on the slaughtered livestock.
“The future of my 13 children who are in primary, secondary and tertiary level has been shattered as their education depended on the slaughtered animals,” said Syantumbe.