In its continued efforts to emphasize co-existence of pastoral farmers and wild animals in the Eastern Panhandle, Community Living Among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS), an NGO within the five villages of Seronga, Gunotsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa has recently launched a mobile cattle quarantine in Eretsha village.
This is the first communal herding program in Botswana where beneficiaries will experience a dramatic reduction in losses of cattle to predators and interaction with Foot and Mouth (FMD) carrying cape buffalos. The program will also see pastoral farmers in the area, an FMD red zone, access markets and benefiting from livestock like in green zone areas.
In an interview, CLAWS Program Coordinator, Dr Edwin Modongo indicated that cattle kept in the quarantine get vaccinations and treatments for illnesses that ravage those unattended cattle outside the program.
“We have already secured a market with Botswana Meat Commission which will be buying cattle in our program from Eretsha village at the same rate it buys those from a green zone area,” Mudongo revealed.
He noted that currently, villagers can only sell to small local markets at lower rates compared to those in regions whereby cattle and wildlife are separated. This he said gives farmers no incentive to take much care of the cattle if the prices are low.
“If farmers want to sell their cattle for a better price they must pay to transport them to a quarantine far away in Makalamabedi, pay for fodder for the quarantine period of 30 days and personal housing that eats significantly into their selling profits,” Modongo lamented.
Mudongo added that the cattle quarantine will also solve the conflict between lions and villagers in the area as the predators usually kill their cattle. He noted that the conflict posed a threat to the existence of lions as farmers resolved to kill them.
The villagers he said have welcome the program adding that they have so far placed 30 cattle from different farmers in the area.
“The quarantine has a 50 cattle carrying capacity and we only decided to put 30 since it is a piloting project, farmers have however availed a large number of their cattle to be enrolled into the quarantine,” Modongo noted.
Modongo noted that they intend to extend the program to other villages across Botswana which are facing the same challenge.