After Drought: Toxic Grass Now Kills Livestock in Arusha

More than 15 cattle have perished in Monduli

After dying from excessive drought, livestock in Northern Tanzania, are now perishing from the first short rains pounding in most parts of Arusha Region and beyond.

Toxic plants, reportedly sprouting from ground following the ongoing short rains falling in Monduli are said to be the major cause of deaths among livestock, precisely cattle, in the district and so far 15 cattle have perished.

The incidents occurred Poisonous leaves killed more than 15 cows in Losirwa village in the windswept Selela Ward of Monduli district in Arusha region.

The Monduli District Commissioner, Frank Mwaisumbe confirms the deaths of over 15 cattle in the precinct, citing the causes as consumption of newly sprouting plants, likely to be poisonous.

“I have issued directives that the carcasses of the dead cattle be deeply buried to avert more infections,” he said.

Apparently, in the past people used to feast on the dead animals and thus suffered serious infections from the poisoned meat.

The mostly nomadic livestock keepers in Monduli say the situation in which livestock die from consuming poisonous grass is normal during the times of first rainfalls following prolonged drought spells in the area.

Pastures become death traps

“The new grass usually has adverse reactions on both domestic animals and wildlife upon consumption,” says Lememo Mollel, one of the herders who lost his cows in the pandemic.

But with prolonged famine, most pastoralists have no option than to let their animals graze on affected pastures.

“Not all grass is affected but again, it is hard to tell where the toxic ones grow as they usually mingle with other plants,” insists Mollel.

An expert Veterinary officer working with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Moses Ole-Neselle points out that the newly sprouting tender grass growing due to the first rains can be toxic to humans, livestock and wildlife.

He explains that it was advisable not to feed cattle with the fresh grass in the rains in order to avert such calamities.

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