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16000 cattle die in Matabeleland South

by Staff Reporter
13 Jan 2020 at 06:40hrs | Views
AT least 16 000 cattle have succumbed to drought in Matabeleland South Province, amid growing fears of a looming water shortage in some parts of the province as water bodies are fast drying up. 

Cattle farmers in Beitbridge, among them Vice President Kembo Mohadi, told our Bulawayo Bureau that the numbers of animals succumbing continued to increase, forcing some to sell their livestock for a song. 

VP Mohadi has so far lost 271 cattle at his farm. His lawyer, Mr Norman Mugiya said the Vice President was losing an average of about 10 beasts a day. 

Beitbridge East legislator Albert Nguluvhe said he lost more than 100 cattle at his farm in Bubi. 

He said the increase in the number of deaths in most parts of the district was due to water shortages. 

"Most cattle are forced to walk long distances in search of water and clearly an already starving cow or beast going through such a challenging situation is not likely to survive. 

"We are saying Government should support farmers by providing them with tractors and slashers so that they can be able to cut grass growing on roadsides and feed their cattle," he said. 

Mr Tamson Lamola of Mazunga resettlement area, said he lost 25 cattle in the last three months. 

He said despite efforts to save his livestock through providing stockfeed, water shortages continued to haunt the area due to drying water sources. 

Mr Lamola said so far, he has spent $25 000 on stock feed, which is not readily available locally. 

"We are appealing to Government to avail more stockfeed to affected areas as we are struggling to access the commodity locally," he said. 

Mr Lamola said some unscrupulous cattle buyers were now capitalising on the situation by buying beasts for as little as R800 to R1 000 from desperate farmers. 

According to official statistics Beitbridge is the worst affected district in Matabeleland South province with more than 4 000 deaths while Bulilima has lost 2 697, Gwanda (2 569), Insiza (2 367), Matobo (1 736), Mangwe 1 434 and Umzingwane (390). Matabeleland South provincial veterinary officer, Dr Enat Mdlongwa said the figure has since surpassed 16 000 as more cattle continue to die. 

"Cattle are dying and it's a terrible situation and when we are looking at our statistics the number of deaths is now at around 16 000 and these are recorded cases and I am convinced it's more than that," he said. 

Dr Mdlongwa said as part of intervention methods, farmers should consider de-stocking and continue feeding their cattle. "We also encourage farmers to grow a bit of some fodder since some parts of the province received rains so that young animals can be saved," he said. 

Ms Sibongile Moyo, a widow from Thornwood Village in Gwanda District, said she lost all her cattle, including three heifers she acquired under the Command Livestock programme. 

"I am at a loss of words. I had 10 cattle, which included the three heifers, which I had received in 2018 from Government as part of the Command Livestock programme and they were all wiped out by drought," she said. 

Government has chosen Matabeleland to be the focal point in the revival of the national cattle herd and improving the quality of breed through the Special Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife Programme commonly referred to as Command Livestock, which was launched two years ago. 

Matabeleland South has an estimated cattle population of slightly above 600 000 while Matabeleland North has more than 500 000 with the national herd estimated to be more than five million. 

Source - Herald