9 August 2017

Namibia: Livestock Movement Restrictions Lifted in Otjombinde

Gobabis — Residents of Otjombinde Constituency in Omaheke Region, who have endured three weeks of livestock movement restrictions, can now sell and trade with their livestock again.

This follows the lifting of livestock movement restrictions in the drought prone constituency last week Wednesday, after fears of a possible infection of the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) were allayed.

Deputy chief veterinary officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Dr John Shoopala confirmed this to New Era on Monday.

The restriction of livestock movement, or quarantine - as it is also referred to - was introduced after two men illegally drove in cattle from neighbouring Botswana, which were suspected to be carrying Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

The men were subsequently arrested, and the cattle - a cow and a calf - were impounded. The restrictions meant that many residents, most of whom sorely rely on subsistence animal husbandry for a living, were left without a source of income as they couldn't sell their livestock.

Blood samples drawn from the animals, however, cleared the livestock of any sign of FMD, which led to the lifting of livestock movement restrictions.

Shoopala said the animals were allegedly stolen from an FMD-free zone in Botswana and it was almost certain they do not carry the feared strain, which could have a catastrophic effect on the beef sector if not curtailed.

It was, however, vital to test the livestock of the disease in order to be absolutely certain. "The police in Botswana informed their Namibian counterparts that the animals came from an FMD-free zone, but we were not sure if they have had contact with animals in the FMD area," Shoopala said.

Shoopla noted that the imposition of restrictive measures is standard in such a case, as failure to do so could result in the disease spreading and becoming difficult to control. "These are standard measures. We cannot take the chance and therefore leave nothing to chance. If those cattle were found to be FMD positive, they would certainly have been destroyed," he said.

Otjombinde Constituency lies on the extreme eastern part of Namibia, bordering Botswana. Despite the frequent restriction of livestock movement in the constituency, the area is also prone to drought and its adverse effects during the dry periods of the year.

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