Wildebeest spread fatal cattle disease

With increasing numbers of wildebeest entering the northern communal area in search of grazing, cattle are being put at risk.

07 August 2019 | Agriculture

Livestock owners are urged not to allow their livestock to graze among wildebeest because of the risk of contracting catarrhal fever.

According to the ministry of agriculture, the occurrence of catarrhal fever in Namibia is linked to the contact of cattle with blue wildebeest and sheep.

The ministry's executive director, Percy Misika, says it is believed that wildebeest calves are a source of the virus that infects cattle.

The ministry of environment and tourism has reported that because of the drought many wild animals have escaped from Etosha National Park over the past two months to find water and grazing, and are now mingling with livestock.

“The disease is most common among cattle when wildebeest calves are two to three months old. The owner or keeper of wildebeest must confine such wildebeest in approved camps as specified by the chief veterinary officer,” says Misika.

“An application for approval of a wildebeest camp must be made to the local state veterinarian in an approved form according to Annexure 16 (Animal Health Regulations: Animal Health Act, Act 1 of 2011) and the approval made by the chief veterinary officer must be in the form set out in Annexure 17 (Animal Health Regulations: Animal Health Act, Act 1 of 2011).”

Misika says people may not introduce or move wildebeest from one area to another without a movement permit set out in Annexure 23 of the Animal Health Regulations.

Catarrhal fever spreads easily to cattle, which usually die within a week of getting ill.

The disease can be transmitted between wildebeest and cattle over a distance of 100 metres.

It is suggested that cattle should be kept at least one kilometre from wildebeest.

Game farms with wildebeest are obliged by law to have double fences.



ILENI NANDJATO

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