Mwenezi(The Times-New Ziana) –Farmers in Mwenezi district, about 169 kilometres from Masvingo town, are losing cattle due to lack of pasture and drinking water.
In interviews, some villagers in parts of the vast district said shortage of grazing and drinking water for livestock were first experienced last August and the situation has now become desperate.
The villagers said over six households had lost 13 cattle to starvation, bringing the total recorded deaths in areas along Bubi River to 21 over the past two months.
Wilfred Chikai of Mwenezi South who lost four cattle over the past two weeks said he failed to do anything to save his animals because he did not have money to purchase supplementary feed.
“We do not have money to buy stock feed. The most distressing thing is that when the cattle succumb to starvation we cannot sell the meat to the butcheries so it is a total loss,” he said.
The villagers said in most cases, they learn about the deaths of their cattle after a couple of days during which the carcasses would have gone bad and not suitable for consumption.
“I looked for my cattle for four days and failed to find them. After some time l received a message from my neighbour that he had seen dogs feasting on the carcasses of my cattle along the Masvingo to Beitbridge road,” said one of the villagers.
A similar situation where farmers in the drought prone district lost livestock due to lack of grazing and water occurred in 2008 and 2009.
The settlement of people displaced by the Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Mwenezi East worsened the situation as little grazing land was left for livestock.
In 2014 Mwenezi lost large numbers of cattle due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease with the Veterinary Services Department bringing in medicines to rescue the situation.