Police have expressed concerned about an ongoing criminal trend whereby cattle rustlers are said to be exchanging stolen calves between the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) infested Ngamiland and Boteti region which is a green zone.
Botswana Police Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Dipheko Motube is worried that the criminal activity is likely to set back government’s efforts to control FMD. In an interview, Motube revealed that the culprits are said to be targeting unbranded cattle and calves from Ngamiland and exchange them with their partners in the Boteti area and vice versa.
“During our ongoing anti stock theft operation (Kgomo-Khumo) in the Boteti region we established that thieves cut through the Makalamabedi FMD veterinary cordon fence and steal calves from Ngamiland and exchange with their partners into Boteti area. Those in Boteti will in return also steal cattle from their region into Ngamiland,” Motube explained.
Motube condemned that the act as an irresponsible and serious economic risk for the country’s beef industry as it poses a high chance of transmitting FMD into the Boteti area which is currently a green zone.
“If FMD is spread to the Boteti zone it will negatively affect the country’s exportation of beef products to the European Union and the economy will consequently be negatively affected,” he stressed.
He added that another trend which they have discovered is that during dry seasons thieves steal cattle from areas across the Makgadikgadi pans such as Zoroga, Gweta and Nata to the other parts of the pan where they will confine them and later sell to butcheries.
Motube has since urged farmers to brand their livestock so as to curb stock theft warning that rustlers have the habit of targeting unbranded beasts. “Zero-tooth animals are in demand because they sell at a high price at Botswana Meat Commission,” he warned. He has also advised farmers to make sure that they pay their herd men well on time to avoid issues were they get involved in stock theft acts for a living.
The anti-stock theft operation is currently in the Boteti area after it resumed in May this year. The exercise which is meant to curb cattle rustlers was temporarily suspended about two years ago following the COVID-19 outbreak. The police spokesperson revealed that through the operation they have so far arrested 51 suspects with connection to 67cases involving 36 livestock since the commencement of the operation in the area on the 12th May 2022.