The Veterinary Services Department has warned farmers against moving livestock without being issued an animal movement permit saying such tendencies are hampering efforts aimed at containing the spread of diseases.

The call comes as the department was recently forced to destroy 18 heifers in Beitbridge district after the owner, a police officer, moved his herd from an area infected by foot and mouth disease without an animal movement permit.

The farmer only used a police clearance document to move the livestock.

The herd which was moved from the infected area to Zhovhe farm which is 140 km away increased the risk of livestock in that area also contracting foot and mouth, hence the decision to destroy the livestock, said the provincial Veterinary Services Department officer Dr Enat Mdlongwa.

“When we discovered the infection at Penemene and Joko dip tanks we quickly moved in and ring vaccinated the surrounding dip tanks and we put all the infected dip tanks under quarantine but unfortunately one police officer who was armed with a police clearance went to the same dip tank and moved 18 heifers from the infected dip tank in Joko and moved them without a Veterinary movement permit,” he said.

The department has reminded farmers that they are required by law to possess both the animal movement permit and police clearance document before moving their animals saying disregard of the provision of the Animal Health Act is contributing to the spread of diseases in the cattle breeding region.

“For any movement of animals you need to have an animal movement permit, the Vet as the custodians of the Animal Health Act are the people who know were animals are allowed to move and where they are not allowed to move,” he said.

The warning also comes in the face of an anticipated drought, which is normally characterised by increased movement of animals to areas with better grazing land and water.

In a bid to curb the spread of foot and mouth and curtail domestic and wildlife conflict  the government under the livestock programme availed funds to enable the national parks to demarcate red and green zones.