Kenyan authorities are angry after Tanzania police burnt to death 6,400 one-day-old chicks from Kenya, on suspicion they could spread bird flu.
Tanzania’s regional livestock boss, Obedi Nyasembwa, said the chicks, worth about Sh554,000 (Tsh12 million), were smuggled from Kenya and were a health risk.
The day-old chicks were intercepted on Sunday in Namanga and a Tanzanian businesswoman was arrested.
They were being transported in ventilated wooden boxes.
The authorities doused them in petrol then set them ablaze on Tuesday, Mwananchi newspaper reported.
The Kenya Veterinary Association confirmed the incident.
This comes days after Tanzania seized and auctioned 1,300 cattle belonging to Maasais from Kenya.
The cattle had been driven across the border for pasture.
Kenyan Livestock PS Andrew Tuimur yesterday was awaiting a briefing on the chicks’ burning.
He criticised Tanzanian authorities for auctioning Maasai cattle last week.
“I was surprised to learn they auctioned the animals. The natural thing would have been to drive them back to where they came from. The Foreign Affairs ministry has taken this up,” he said.
Tuimur said cross-border movement of animals is common in East Africa because of drought.
“The pastoralists were looking for pasture. This often happens on the border with Ethiopia and Uganda,” he said.
Yesterday, Kenyan veterinarians condemned the burning of the chicks.
“There was a more humane way of dealing with the birds, but burning them alive is not humane,” the honorary secretary of the Kenya Veterinary Association, Kenneth Wameyo, said.
He said there was no evidence the chicks carried disease and in any case, there is no bird flu in Kenya.
“The chicks are innocent. Tanzanian laws governing disease control actually state they should have been returned to where they originated,” Wameyo said.
Wameyo said Tanzania had also refused to sign the Mutual Recognition Agreement for East African vets.
This would facilitate movement of veterinarians, specialists and other veterinary professionals across East Africa.
Mutual Recognition Agreements are internationally recognised.
They are most commonly applied to goods and services, where partnering countries agree to recognise one another’s conformity assessments.
This eliminates the need for duplicate authorisation processes.
Tanzania banned all poultry imports in 2007 to prop up the domestic.
Tanzania’s Mwananchi newspaper quoted police as saying the chicks belonged Mary Matia from Arusha, who has been arrested.
Kenyans on WhatsApp groups for vets angrily told off Tanzania.
The others praised the country for being strict on disease surveillance laws.