Livestock farmers resort to bat poison to fight ticks
DAILY MONITOR – Desperate livestock farmers in Sembabule District have turned to using bat fumigants to kill ticks which have become increasingly resistant to several types of acaricide treatment.
According to Mr Moses Ninsiima, the chairperson of Sembabule Cattle Keepers’ Association, although bat fumigants do not eliminate the drug–resistant blue and red ticks completely, those who have sprayed them so far claim that their animals are getting some relief.
“Many farmers following advice from one farmer owning a large farm have resorted to applying bat poison to kill ticks and are registering some little success,” Mr Ninsiima said during a recent interview.
“But some farmers have complained that bat poison has caused skin complications to their cows and they are spending more money to treat them,” he adds.
Mr James Asiimwe, one of the farmers who started using fumigants after being tipped by several farmers says he resorted to using bat poison after other acaricides on the market failed to kill the ticks.
“We pray it remains effective as we wait for the vaccination the government promised,” Mr Kyalisima says.
Mr Richard Turyasingura, one of the cattle keepers in Ntuusi Sub-county who lost 31 cows to ticks wonders why government has up to now failed to fulfill its promise of giving effective acaricides to farmers as well as vaccinating the cattle.
“Whenever we request for help, government keeps telling us to procure drugs from abroad and never brings them to help us yet we pay taxes,” Mr Turyasingura says.
Since June last year, farmers have been battling acaricide resistant ticks which have caused East coast fever, claiming droves of animals.
In a move to tackle the problem which has currently spread to at least 27 cattle corridor districts, government through the Ministry of Agriculture promised to vaccinate all cattle against East coast fever as well as getting farmers better acaricides .
The resolution follows reports from laboratory tests in Kampala, where samples of ticks were taken and proved that ticks had developed resistance to drugs, as Ms Joy Kabatsi, the State minister for Animal Husbandry reveals.
She says they had observed a number of reasons that accounted for ticks resistant. Among these, she notes wrong dosage and poor mixing of acaricides. Cases of fake acaricides on the market, like farmers note, was also observed.
On top of vaccination and spraying, Ms Kabatsi says farmers were also going to be sensitised on proper use of drugs, although the farmers insist that they know how to mix drugs and have been doing it for such a long time.
To this effect, Shs10 billion was earmarked to carry out vaccination, however government has not yet fulfilled its pledge.
The pledge came after a team of experts carried out laboratory findings which revealed that ticks had developed resistance.
However, after waiting for the anticipated vaccination which has been postponed four times (December 2016, January, April and July respectively), farmers have since lost hope and desperately resorted to use of bat poison.
In July this year, President Museveni launched a new drug (Vectoclor Acaricide), at the Kiruhura District headquarters which acted as a sample district in testing the effectiveness of the drug.
The district then started the programme to test the effectiveness of the drug with the whole campaign being spearheaded by both the district and ministry officials.
Reports from the 18 lower local councils selected 82 parishes of Kiruhura District on trial indicated that the drug was effective.
Ms Kabatsi says it is from this trial exercise that government will roll out the spraying of cattle throughout the country to eliminate ticks and the ministry had ordered for a consignment of acaricides.
“We are expecting to get the consignment any time and the moment the drug arrives in the country, we shall start distributing it to the farmers to spray their cattle and shall pick it from the district headquarters,” Ms Kabatsi says.
She adds that two farmers per parish have already been trained to help fellow farmers on how to administer the drug.
East Coast fever is a tick-borne protozoa infection of cattle in East and Central Africa. The disease is transmitted by infected ticks also termed as brown ticks since they often cling on to ears of cattle and sheep.
The disease, according to Mr Edward Muwanga, a veterinary doctor, constrains cattle from developing and later dying after the infection of the deadly East coast fever.
At least 2,500 cows are reported to have died of east coast fever in Sembabule District alone, according to Mr Ninsiima.
Lost hope. After waiting for the anticipated vaccination which has been postponed four times (December 2016, January, April and July respectively), farmers have since lost hope and desperately resorted to use of bat poison.
New drug. In July this year, President Museveni launched a new drug (Vectoclor Acaricide), at the Kiruhura District headquarters which acted as a sample district in testing the effectiveness of the drug.
Testing. The district then started the programme to test the effectiveness of the drug with the whole campaign being spearheaded by both the district and ministry officials.