Botswana: Wilderbeests Operation Nears Completion

Sekhutlhane — Removal of wildebeests from Gasita-Lerolwane communal area to a protected area will be completed end of this month.

Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism's principal veterinary officer, Dr Mmolotsi Dikolobe, said their team had captured majority of wildebeests in the area.

The move to relocate the wildebeest was an answer to farmers' outcry that their cattle were dying as a result of malignant catarrhal fever (MCF), which was caused by contact between the cattle and wildebeests.

Dr Dikolobe said so far about 1 240 wildebeests had been captured and taken to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, while some were taken to Thebephatswa BDF Camp.

"We can confirm that we have translocated a majority of wildebeests, which have been in this area. What is left may just be a few of them, as there are chances that some may have escaped during the process," he said.

He said they were hopeful that there shall be a considerable difference in terms of reduction of MCF transmission to cattle.

Dr Dikolobe said, through the use of a helicopter, they would survey the area once more to establish the numbers remaining.

"We have managed to reach our set target, however, we are yet to conduct final assessment and map a way forward," he said.

He added that although the operation was coming to an end, farmers at Molopo commercial farms had expressed concern that they were also affected.

He said consultations would establish how those farmers would be assisted, adding that the farmers had already pledged their resources to assist the team in translocating wildebeests in the farms.

Dr Dikolobe said the ministry was thankful for the cooperation and support, which they received from the farmers and public.

Regarding the ongoing culling of wildebeests for public consumption in Gasita-Lerolwane area, senior wildlife officer, Ms Ineeleng Collyer, said culling and auctioning was going smoothly and according to plan.

She said so far they had culled and auctioned about 144 wildebeests to Gasita, Lerolwane, Sekhutlhane, Metlobo, Tsoaneng, Mabule, Tshidilamolomo, adding that they were now left with Thankane and Samane.

She made an assurance that the meat was safe for consumption since they had engaged the Department of Veterinary Services throughout the culling exercise to conduct inspections and examination of the meat.

"Our inspections begin with the cleanliness of our slaughter shed and those handling the meat, up to meat inspection," Ms Collyer said.

Source : BOPA

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