By Suleiman Hassan:
Wajir South Member of Parliament Hon. Abdullahi Diriye is calling for urgent measures and interventions to contain a strange disease that is threatening to wipe out the most treasured livestock of the Somali community – Camels.
Speaking to Nepjournal on phone, Diriye said the disease was first reported in parts of Wajir South sub-county but was fast spreading to the unaffected areas as well as neighboring sub-counties.
“I met a herder who lost sixteen out of his thirty camels. The animal develops fever, loses appetite and becomes lethargic before succumbing to the disease which is not responding to ordinary medication” said the MP.
Diriye added it was unfortunate the disease struck at this time of the rainy season when water and pasture were in plenty.
“At this time of the season, the pastoral community would count their blessings and build their stock numbers which is not the case now due to the outbreak of this disease” he continued.
The MP lauded efforts by the county government of Wajir in addressing the outbreak but said more assistance was needed urgently to contain the disease.
“I wish to laud efforts by the county government in addressing this issue but this is not enough and they are overwhelmed. I am appealing for help from relevant government and non – governmental agencies in terms of vaccinations and other medicine, research and investigation to diagnose the disease as well as the immediate establishment of public Health arenas so that human beings are not infected when they eat the dead camel meat” said Diriye.
The lawmaker is raising the red flag on animal – human transfer of the disease because most members of the pastoral community tend to slaughter for consumption any weak animal before it dies oblivious of the dangers they were exposing themselves to. As a result, he called on concerned authorities and the general public to immediately launch sensitization campaigns against this practice.
Because of their numerous and unique physical traits that enable them survive in harsh desert climates, particularly their ability to consume very little water without dehydrating, Camels are the most resilient livestock kept by any pastoral community.
There are several species of the “ships of the desert”, such as the Arabian camel and Bactrian camel, which vary slightly in physical appearance, but share a suite of characteristics and physical features, such as broad flat feet and a double row of eyelashes, to help them survive in hot and arid deserts.
Most of the Kenyan pastoral communities stock the Arabian camel species.