THE Botswana government has imposed a shoot to kill order on Zimbabwean cattle that stray across the border as a way of tightening disease control, especially Food and Mouth Disease, which frequently breaks out along the border.
Mmegi quoted Agriculture Minister, Patrick Ralotsia, Wednesday confirming the latest developments, saying the new policy would go into effect in the next three months.
He said communication of the policy was ongoing to the Botswana Defence Force, police, wildlife officers and others involved in enforcement.
“In fact, had it not been their (Zimbabwe) request for a three month grace period, we would have already started this policy,” Ralotsia said.
“They asked for three months within which to go and inform their farmers and we agreed. I’ve interaction with the ministries in Zimbabwe and I can tell you that they agree that this is necessary and not just for Zimbabwe, but all the countries that we share borders with, that have FMD problems. Disease does not know borders.”
The “shoot to kill” policy replaces the practice of returning stray Zimbabwean cattle across the border and comes as Botswana tightens its animal disease controls in order to protect the beef industry.
Through the years, frequent FMD outbreaks in the north have been caused by Zimbabwean cattle straying over the largely porous 813km border and mingling with local livestock.
Critically, several of the country’s veterinary zones for beef exports lie adjacent to the border, meaning cross border infections directly affect local exports and revenues.
Ralotsia said the new policy has been communicated with Zimbabwean agriculture authorities through meetings, which included the Joint Permanent Commission.
“This is one way in which we are trying to totally annihilate FMD across the borders,” he said.
“We’ve agreed with the Zimbabwean authorities that this is for the good of our people. Once the policy starts, people will take greater care of their livestock and will not allow them to cross the border. They will see that the FMD control has been toughened.”
Ralotsia added that Botswana was continuing its bilateral efforts to support Zimbabwe’s FMD control initiatives, which in the past have included provision of technical and material support to fight the animal disease.— Mmegi.