Continuous monitoring and close cooperation between farmers, veterinarians and officials from the Veterinary Sciences Directorate at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) ensure that South Africa (SA) retains its status of being foot and mouth disease (FMD) free, says Dricus Botha, TLU North Manager.
The Daily Maverick recently reported that visitors to the Mapungubwe National Park, where the Limpopo and Sashe Rivers meet on the borders of SA, Botswana and Zimbabwe, complained about the presence of cattle in the park.
The cattle apparently belong to a community on the Zimbabwe side of the trans frontier park and according to management of the park, the cattle are allowed there because it coincides with age old interactive land use patterns between human and animal in this World Heritage Site.
“The free movement of livestock and game in the area exists since 900 BC. Mapungubwe is a living cultural landscape and we have to appreciate it for what it is, without comparing it with the well-known Kruger National Park,” the parks’ management said in a media release.
According to the management, more cattle are seen in the park due to DAFF that is not maintaining the veterinary fences between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
According to Operation Corona, which should repair fences on the northern borders of South Africa, the fence is the responsibility of the Department of Public Works and should be patrolled by the South African Army.
Botha says that transfrontier parks generally have livestock that cross borders at will and adds that it isn’t really the responsibility of transfrontier parks to erect fences. Farmers’ biggest concern over these parks’, as well as the rest of country’s borders, is the spread of disease.
He says that existing border fences between South Africa and their northern neighbours were put up by farmers, and adds that they are also maintaining the fences themselves.
“The protection of the country’s FMD free status is important. Therefore we, together with DAFF, follow a very strict and thorough monitoring programme.”
He praises the department for their commitment in this regard and says that training emerging farmers with regards to livestock diseases and prevention in the Limpopo Valley is now priority.
He says as far as he knows, connections between livestock farmers across the barriers are good and the department is assisting the Maramani community in Zimbabwe to monitor disease in their animals.
He says it might take a while for the Zimbabwean government to be administratively strong enough to assist the communities with veterinary services. In the meantime, SA farmers and the department are working hard to prevent any cross-boundary threats to the local agricultural industry.