Conservation Board owns up for disease

2015-10-29 11:41
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Pietermaritzburg - The KwaZulu-Natal Conservation Board has accepted liability for damages caused by the spread of Corridor Disease from buffalo in the Opathe Game Reserve to a neighbouring cattle farm.

Judge Sharmaine Balton on Wednesday granted an order by consent in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, in terms of which the board has been ordered to pay 100% of proven damages to Stephanus and Tina-Marie Volschenk of Sweet Home Farm in the Melmoth area.

The board, which is responsible for the management of nature conservation in KZN, was also ordered to pay the legal costs of the dispute, which dates back to 2007, and fees and expenses incurred by various experts.

The Volschenks’ original claim against the board was for R1 064 908.40 but the damages that will ultimately be paid will be determined in future proceedings.

According to the court papers, the Volschenks’ cattle farm shares a common boundary with Opathe game reserve. They allege that between April 2003 and June 2006 — the exact dates being unknown — buffalo obtained from Ithala game reserve were introduced into Opathe.

The buffalo were infected with Corridor Disease, which spread onto Sweet Home Farm where it infected the Volschenks’ cattle.

As a result 30 cattle died, a further 15 had to be slaughtered and the farm was placed under quarantine by order of the state veterinarian.

The Volschenks said they were prevented from moving any cattle through their property while it remained under quarantine, and the camp where the infestation started could not be used for 18 months.

The farmer also had to perform specified dipping and other control measures to eradicate the disease, incurred veterinary costs and also had to pay to transport the infected cattle carcasses.

Some of the remaining cattle were sold due to a shortage in grazing, and the farm incurred additional feeding and labour costs.

The board had initially opposed the law suit, despite admitting that 28 head of buffalo were introduced into Opathe game reserve in 2004.

It had maintained that if it was proved that the disease had spread from the buffalo to the cattle, then the Volschenks should be held partly responsible for failing to test for and take immediate action it once it was identified.

The court order, however, makes it clear that the board has now accepted full liability for the damages caused by the spread of the disease.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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