Tanzania burns 6,400 illegally imported chicks  from Kenya

By Catherine James

DA RE SALAAM – The government of Tanzania has burned about 6,400 birds, an act condemned by the veterinarians who say it was cruelty met out on the chicks.

The chicks worth Tsh12.5 million (about $5,570) were impounded on Monday at the northern Namanga border post before being set ablaze on Tuesday for fear of bird flu transmission.

Tanzania Animal Welfare Society executive director Dr Thomas Kahema was quoted by the Citizen newspaper that government should have used alternative ways not burning the birds.

He said the 2008 law on animal welfare guarantees the protection of the chicks and that it was cruel to burn them.

 Dr Kahema, said instead of burning them, the authorities could have been sent the newly-hatched birds back to Kenya since no tests had been carried to confirm the chicks were infected.

“The decision distorts the country’s image as one that does not respect animal rights,” he said.

Other Tanzanian animal rights activists condemned the burning of the chicks saying it was cruel.

The government veterinary official for the Northern Zone, Mr Obedi Nyasebwa, had said Tuesday that the aim was to curb the outbreak of bird flu.

Further, he said the government had banned the importation of chicks in 2007.

Arusha-based businesswoman Mary Matia who had imported the birds was taken into police custody.

Tanzania Revenue Authority assistant manager at the Namanga border Mr Edwin Iwato said the owner of the vehicle that carried the chicks would also be fined.

Senior veterinarian Medard Tarimo said complaints about chick smuggling had been rife.

“They are mostly smuggled at night, endangering the health of Tanzanians since we know avian influenza has broken out in neighbouring Uganda.”

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