Veterinary doctors have condemned the arbitrary sale of thousands of Kenyan Maasai cattle by Tanzanian authorities.
The more than 1,300 cows were auctioned near Arusha last week for about Sh93 million. Tanzania’s Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Luhaga Mpina said they feared the cattle would spread dangerous diseases.
He added the Kenyan livestock were causing environmental damage, including erosion, and contributed significantly to land-based conflicts between farmers and pastoralists in the country.
But Kenyan veterinarians say such claims are absurd.
“We do common interventions along the border with Uganda and Tanzania to prevent diseases. There was absolutely no risk from the Kenyan animals,” honorary secretary of the Kenya Veterinary Association Kenneth Wameyo said.
The claim by Tanzania was even more absurd, considering millions of wildebeests move between the two countries every year.
“When it comes to cattle, they rush to claim there will be diseases, yet we have millions of other animals that feed on plants like the wildebeests that cross from Kenya to Tanzania and they have no problem with that,” Wameyo said, adding the two countries should have a more diplomatic way of handling the situation.
Maasai herdsmen from Nairebuk, Olmesutye, Enkeju Enirai and Ngoyeengalai crossed over early this month to Tanzania in search of pasture.
They were given one week to vacate.
Tanzanian authorities said they were not ready to incur costs for “treating diseases caused by cattle from neighbouring countries”.
The authorities said 2,700 head of cattle crossed into Tanzania and 1,400 were taken back to Kenya by their owners, but 1,300 head of cattle remained in Tanzania because the owners ran away.
Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohamed last week attempted to secure the livestock, but the country’s leadership is said to have delayed engaging her until the cattle were auctioned.
Mpina said they have started labelling Tanzania’s cattle to make it easy to conduct countrywide operation meant to remove the ‘migrant cattle’ from neighbouring countries.
They will continue to conduct operations to remove cattle from Kenya through Tanga, Mara, Ruvuma, and Arusha regions.
Mpina urged regional and district authorities to have similar operations within seven days. He added the move apolitical and has nothing to do with economic relations with the Kenyan government.