By Leo Mkhuwala
Cattle Dying In Large Numbers In Botswana Due To Prolonged Drought
In a vivid scenario of living in a continent where negative impact of climate change continue sending messages of harsh climatic conditions, hundreds of cattle and donkeys are dying in the Southern African country of Botswana.
Recent reports by the country’s Ministry of Agriculture indicate that, prolonged drought, that has been accelerated by extreme weather across Southern Africa, has created a situation of sparse pasture and lack of drinking water, therefore endangering the survival of cattle and donkeys, which are in large population.
Ministry of Agriculture Spokesperson, Boikhutso Rabasha says, even around the country’s Lake Ngami, which is now drying out, leaving the animals without water and pasture, a desperate situation has led to traditional herdsmen to give up their animals as they eventually die.
The father of 10, Skanki Mokweba who had 20 cows is now remaining with only 4 and this is the kind of situation experienced by many cattle dependent herdsmen in Selebi Phikwe and the surrounding places in the countryside.
The loss of cattle is said to be threatening the country’s tradition and culture, as cattle skins have long been used to produce traditional dance attire for men, women and children as well as clothing for traditional chiefs.
Agricultural census in Botswana estimated cattle population in the period between 2011 and 2015 had dropped from 2.5 Million to 1.7 Million.
Botswana earns 70 percent of its earnings from diamond exports, not agriculture, which produces less than 3 percent of GDP.
However, livestock still accounts for 80 percent of Botswana’s Agricultural earnings.
As the sad story of loss is being told, carcasses are burnt and discarded along the banks of streams while others are left to rot inside the kraal.
But, standard practice has always demanded that dead animal should be disposed off within 24 hours as per advice of the country’s Veterinary Department.