A leading regional livestock farmers association says efforts to control the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Northern Botswana is being complicated by the presence of nearly 22 000 free-ranging stray cattle.

Image/Alvaro1984 18
Image/Alvaro1984 18

The outbreak, which has affected large areas of communal farmlands around the Lake Ngami area, was confirmed on June 10.

Ngamiland Farmers Association chairman Mod Masedi told The Ngami Times that while farmers could account for their cattle and ensure they are vaccinated, large herds of stray cattle were roaming through the region and complicating disease control efforts.

“We want all cattle in the Ngamiland area to be covered by the ongoing anti-FMD vaccination, but there is a high number of stray cattle and that disadvantages disease control efforts,” Masedi said.

Ngamiland regional Principal Veterinary Officer Odireleng Thololwane said 20 cattle have tested positive for the FMD SAT 2 strain since it was confirmed early last month.

Most of the affected beasts were calves. The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) has blamed recurrent FMD outbreaks in the Ngamiland on farmers who do not monitor their livestock, leading to unguided movements across disease control boundaries.

The department has deployed specialized FMD control teams to conduct livestock vaccinations and related disease surveillance operations.

Meanwhile, the DVS has relaxed the ban on the movement and slaughter of cloven-hoofed animals.  Slaughter for social purposes like weddings and funerals has been permitted in five cattle-producing areas around Lake Ngami.