Saturday, November 04, 2006

Animals on the roads in Africa

You can smell them a few miles off. The decomposing carcasses of cattle and donkeys littering the highway. I used to drive 40km's to work - from Francistown to Tonota - on the main carriageway that runs north to south across the east of Botswana. On many mornings I would encounter this hideous smell. The smell would last for days until the carcass had been picked clean by the vultures.

When one got the whiff of death in the nostrils one knew what had happened. An animal roaming on the road had been hit and killed by a vehicle. Often this would result in the death of the driver and passangers. Sometimes the driver may have been speeding - very unwise at night time in Bots but if the bloody animals weren't on the road then dozens of deaths could be avoided every year! The situation is ridiculous. Farmers, on the whole, do not take responsibilitiy for their livestock. Animals roam freely and often wander into the road. This is a problem all over the country but it is at its worst on the main carriageways. Government can easily address the situation by holding farmers to account for the movements of their animals and by errecting fences along the side of the road. One doesn't have to be a genius to realise that this would in itself reduce the number of fatalities on the roads but nothing is ever done about it!!!

Strangely the neighbouring countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe - which are nowhere near as wealth as Botswana do not have a problem with animals roaming on their roads. I wish Botswana would take the situation as seriously as her neighbours!

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