Movements of animals banned in Eiseb, Epukiro Otjinene and Rietfontein

Windhoek After close to a month of the ban of the movement of all cloven hoven animals in the Okakara constituency, a ban which is still effective, another ban has been slapped on the movement of animals in the communal areas of Eiseb and Rietfontein (Otjombinde) in the Otjombinde Constituency, Otjinene communal area in the Otjinene Constituency and the Epukiro communal area in the Epukiro Constituency, all in the Omaheke region after a buffalo was sighted in the village of Ovye in Eiseb yesterday.

Chief veterinary officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Dr AF Maseke has notified. All areas, farms and farming units in these areas have thus been declared restricted areas where cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and cloven hoofed game and any cloven animals and their products may not be moved out and into these areas. All animals' gatherings activities, and animals and animal products in transit in the restricted areas have been suspended until further notice. But the movement of all processed to eat products such as sour milk, dry salted biltong, cheese, butter, yoghurt and other ready to eat products are allowed into and out of the restricted areas.

All veterinary movement permits which have already been issued for animals originating from the affected areas have been cancelled with immediate effect. Meantime a team of veterinary and wildlife officials have been deployed in the area with the purpose of tracking and destroying the buffalo. Roadblocks will be set up at strategic points to ensure compliance with measures instituted. Intensified surveillance in susceptible livestock populations by veterinary officials have also been started.

The sighting of the buffalo comes as a very disturbing news for the farming community of the Epukiro Constituency who have been preparing for their ever first auction in a long time which has been scheduled for May 15-16 at the village of Otjiwarongo.

A two- pronged joint marathon effort by the communal farming community in the Okakarara Constituency, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Veterinary Services Department has been underway in this constituency since mid-last month to trace another a buffalo sighted by a villager in the village of Okarui. The movement of all animals within the constituency and beyond, and from other areas into the constituency were also banned for an indefinite period. This buffalo has not been found and the ban remains in force.

Farmers in the Okakarara constituency would never want to see a return to the period when a buffalo was found in the constituency a few years ago virtually bringing the economy of the cattle herding rural community to a standstill because of the ban on the movement of animals, with equally disastrous social consequences. So negatively impactful was the encroachment of the buffalo and the resultant ban on the movement of animals affecting many things like maintaining learners in schools because parents could not afford school fees. Life during that period became unbearable for many a farmers so much reliant on the selling of livestock. Not only this but it also became a fad of the time, until this day to refer to equate money as onyati (buffalo) with the popular saying onyati kaiyaranda, basically translating into times are hard financially.

Three years ago the outbreak of FMD in the North also affected the informal economies, especially the Kapana (grilled cubes of meat) sellers, when the disease broke out in the regions of Ohangwena and Oshikoto spreading to other regions such Omusati, Oshana, Kunene and Kavango West. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry put up measures to control the spread of the disease to new regions to confine it those regions where it was detected. Many people selling Kapana were then forced to their sell fish or chicken. The disease also has a negative impact on meat exports with traders reluctant to trade because of the outbreak of the disease.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia