The Limpopo Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) will request the implementation of a moratorium on the transfer and relocation of blue wildebeest, carriers of the dreaded cattle illness snotsiekte (bovine catarrh). This decision was made during the annual provincial congress which was recently held at the Baltimore Farmer’s Hall. It was decided that a moratorium will only be necessary until a vaccine against snotsiekte has been developed.
It’s unthinkable to move carrier animals while there is no cure for the disease they are carrying, said veterinarian Dr Danie Odendaal at the congress. “If a farmer wants to make a court case against anybody for cattle deaths, they should make it against the state.” He wanted to know why cattle with ticks may not be moved, while government allows the relocation of animals carrying an incurable disease.
Lack of funding seems to be the biggest obstacle when it comes to snotsiekte research. The Limpopo RPO asked the national RPO to assist with funding so that research can be carried out and a vaccine developed.
Veterinarian Dr Jana Pretorius said they needed more case studies and urged farmers to supply them with information on all snotsiekte incidents. “We can do nothing without enough information.”
Limpopo veterinarian Dr Edwin Dyson submitted a research document showing the annual growth in the number of snotsiekte deaths amongst cattle.
While this debate continues, Stoffel Matthis, secretary of the snotsiekte ombudsman Judge Appie Steenkamp, appealed to farmers to bring their disputes to the ombudsman, rather than taking them to court. A moratorium was placed on the movement of wildebeest in the early 1980s, but was lifted around 1993. Dr Hym Ebedes, one of the experts involved in the lifting of the moratorium, told Farmer’s Weekly this decision was made because it seemed unfair towards game ranches as sheep were also carriers of snotsiekte. “There were so few animals dying at the time, the moratorium didn’t seem necessary.” He said, however, that people are nowadays keeping wildebeest with cattle, which should not be done. – Susan Botes