THE illegal movement of cattle and non-compliance to regular cattle dipping has negatively
resulted in massive animal deaths, a senior Government official has confirmed.
Matabeleland South Veterinary head, Dr Enart Mdlongwa, confirmed the deaths, citing failure
by farmers to dip their cattle, as well as controlling the illegal movement of the animals for the
surge in deaths.
January disease (Theileriosis) is transmitted to livestock by ticks and the disease is usually
prevalent in January during the rainy season hence the name January disease.
The Veterinary Services official said they were still gathering statistics, but confirmed that Insiza
District was highly affected with some villagers having reportedly lost more than 50 cattle from
a single herd.
“The problem started last year and people were not taking heed and they started losing animals.
We have teams on the ground and we are deploying some more to attend to the problem.
“We tried to educate people on the dangers of not dipping cattle, but they did not listen. This
problem is not new. It has just resurfaced on a larger scale,” said Dr. Mdlongwa.
He added that other areas that were likely to be affected in the province were Umzingwane,
Matobo and Plumtree Districts, which received significant rains.
Currently, Fort Rixon in Insiza District is heavily affected and farmers are already appealing for
Government intervention before their livestock is devastated by the deadly disease.
It is also reported that cattle buyers are taking advantage of the situation and are buying cattle for
Big beasts with a market value of up to $700 are being disposed for as little as $200 or less since
farmers are fearing a complete loss.
“The problem is shortage of dipping chemicals because we are no longer dipping our cattle
fortnightly as was the norm over the years,” complained a farmer, who only identified himself as
Nyathi, from Fumugwe area in Gwanda South.
In response, Dr Mdlongwa said they agreed with villagers on dipping schedules and on who shall
take ownership of buying dipping chemicals.
“There are some dip tanks which are under the Department of Veterinary Services, while some,
especially those at Umzingwane District, buy chemicals on their own,” he explained.