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Farmer against buffalo

September 2015
  • African buffalo, photographed in Namibia

    African buffalo, photographed in Namibia. Photo: Gunnar Heussen

Farmers demand the earmarking or removal of buffaloes from the state-owned Waterberg Plateau Park. Reason: Time and again individual buffaloes manage to break out of the park and wander onto the surrounding farms. According to official regulations the area concerned is immediately placed under quarantine until the buffalo is killed and proven to be free of the much-feared foot-and-mouth-disease. The subsequent prohibition to transport animals and plants poses a big challenge to farmers.

The hunt for the buffalo and the analysis of samples are time consuming. Earmarks would ensure an immediate identification of the animals originating from the Waterberg Plateau, as opposed to animals that might have migrated from the northeast of Namibia to the farmland around the Waterberg. An earmark would mean an immediate all-clear because the herd in the national park is free of foot-and-mouth-disease. The Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism would however like to avoid earmarking because it is seen as detrimental to game viewing and trophy hunting on the plateau. Up to 20 buffaloes are set to be cleared for trophy hunting in the next year.

Earmarks also do not help in the case of “ghost buffaloes”. In April reports of the escape of a buffalo resulted in a search of several weeks, with no trace of the buffalo. The quarantine hit 26 farmers, who urgently needed to sell cattle on account of the drought.