BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
ABOUT 500 cattle have reportedly succumbed to drought in Matabeleland South province since June this year, as most pastures and water sources have dried up due to this year’s prolonged dry spell.
This was disclosed by the province’s livestock specialist, Simangaliso Ngwabi at a stakeholders’ workshop organised by the Food and Agricultural Organisation in Bulawayo on Tuesday.
“All districts indicate that all classes of livestock across all farming sectors are in a fair to poor condition, 20% of the livestock in communal lands in the province is in a fair condition and 80% poor,” she said.
“In commercial farms, the condition is fair to good. However, comparing the current situation to last year, the situation has declined, as during the same period last year, 50% of the livestock was in good condition.”
Ngwabi said major dams are 40% full on average, while small ones and rivers are dry.
“The discharging level of boreholes has decreased due to the receded water table. As such, 70% of the livestock get water from major dams and boreholes,” she said.
“However, surface water may not last to December because of the heavy siltation of dams and rivers. Siltation has reduced the water holding capacity.”
Speaking at the same function, Matabeleland North livestock officer, Mike Nemashakwe, also painted a gloomy picture about the province, saying “the late onset of rainfall has affected grass growth and water bodies, putting livestock at greater risk of starvation”.
The province has, however, only recorded two drought-related cattle deaths since last month.