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Ministry embarks on Lake Ngami clean up.

The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security has embarked on a cleanup operation at Lake Ngami in an effort to manage the situation and prevent disease outbreaks.

The ministry, through the Department of Veterinary Services, managed to remove over 350 animals and carcasses that had been stuck in the mud due to the severe drought ravaging the district.

The animals included cattle, horses and hippos.

The exercised followed the visit by the minister, Mr Fidelis Molao who said the situation needed urgent attention and also called for the removal of carcasses from the lake.

In an interview, principal veterinary officer, Dr Odirileng Thololwane explained that they embarked on the exercise because they were concerned about the animals and human beings' welfare as well as the cleanliness of the environment.

Dr Thololwane said the carcasses were a risk as there was a possibility of outbreaks of diseases such as anthrax and botulism, which he said were dangerous to both human beings and animals.

He said they were also concerned about some villagers, who continue to fish at the lake.

He pleaded with farmers to play their role in the exercise by ensuring that their cattle do not go back to the lake, revealing that the operation might take two weeks because they were finding it difficult to reach some parts of the lake.

Dr Thololwane expressed concern that some farmers were frustrating their efforts by not taking care of their cattle, saying most had been roaming around.

He revealed that close to 10 000 cattle drink at the lake, adding that even during the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) campaigns, they experienced challenges of farmers failing to bring all their cattle for vaccination.

He said there was a possibility that they would experience an FMD outbreak due to the severe drought as many cattle were roaming in search of water and vegetation.

But, Dr Thololwane stated that efforts had been made to start vaccination for FMD, anthrax, botulism and lumpy skin, adding however that it was disappointing as they received low numbers.

The department, he said targeted 80 per cent of animals, but currently they were below average.

At the lake, he said they managed to vaccinate 3600 cattle and yet close to 10 000 drink there.

One of the farmers from Sehithwa, Mr Lwamong Pulamore, who lost twenty cattle at the lake, thanked the ministry for the operation, saying the officers were doing a good job to prevent disease outbreaks.

He explained that it was difficult for farmers to look after their cattle because of the drought and admitted that many cattle flocked to the lake to drink clean water as most of the boreholes in the area produced salty water.

Mr Pulamore assured the ministry that they would mobilise other farmers to assist in cleaning up the lake.

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Publication:Botswana Daily News (Gaborone, Botswana)
Date:Sep 10, 2019
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