How effective is the VCF in controlling animal movements

23 Oct 2015

The establishment of the veterinary cordon fence (VCF) in the 1960s was solely to protect cattle against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) stemming from buffalo. However, since then the number of diseases that can potentially affect cattle and now have to be considered as veterinary control issues, have increased. Consequently, today these fences are used for controlling more than just FMD.

According to the Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer: Animal Disease Control at the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) Dr. John Shoopala, the VCF has been effective in preventing animals from moving south of the fence. “However, the Ministry continues to experience challenges, mainly with regards to the high maintenance costs and destruction of the fences by elephants.”

Through Ministerial efforts, farmers continue to receive information about the importance of the fence. This is necessary to ensure that producers understand how important the VCF is to control animal diseases.

“We depend on the cooperation of farmers to ensure that all problems relating to the VCF that may arise are reported in a timely manner. Farmers must report to the nearest state veterinary office if they find that any part of the fence has been tampered with, or is broken in any way. Farmers must also ensure that their animals do not destroy the fence by keeping them a fair distance away from the VCF.”

Physical barriers such as game proof fencing have been erected in certain areas and in some spots, electrification of the fence is currently underway. This is also carried out by the DVS fencing teams.

Shoopala adds that, “DVS has a number of permanently stationed fencing teams who monitor and maintain the fence and gates that are manned by DVS officials and the Namibian Police. In the event that animals are spotted moving south of the VCF, the public should alert DVS officials or the Namibian Police. People should note that any animal found too close to the VCF is seen as a potential threat, and will be destroyed immediately without compensation.”

As part of its efforts, the Ministry is implementing the Northern Communal Area (NCA) freedom project that is aimed at improving access to markets for all livestock in the NCA. For now, the project is in an infancy stage and more information will be shared with industry stakeholders in time.