The red meat industry is bristling at the threat of a possible outbreak of foot-and-mouth

South Africa -- The Red Meat Forum (RMF) has applied for an urgent court interdict to prevent 153 Zambian sable antelope from entering the country under a protocol which was passed in December.

According to RMF chairperson Dave Ford, this exception to the general ban on the import of cloven-hoofed animals under the Animal Diseases Act was "rushed through while everyone was away on holiday".

The protocol was published in the Government Gazette on December 22 2009.

Speaking for the disease-prone sector, Ford said the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in South Africa could spell disaster for an industry dependent on international trading partners. The whiff of disease in the country could see an export ban under the World Organization for Animal Health.

Foot-and-mouth disease can be transmitted by infected animals or insects like ticks, making containment difficult.

"The concern is they're not even adhering to the protocol and are jeopardizing the entire industry," said Ford.

According to the court documents submitted by the RMF, it has made numerous attempts to review the trade risk analysis, a compulsory assessment of animals during which any diseases they have would be picked up.

The RMF believes that despite its objection to the protocol, the import of these animals is imminent. According to its court documents, the sable antelope will be brought into the country at the end of January and located at the Wolvefontein Farm near Barkly East.
The department of agriculture's chief of communications, Priscilla Tsotso Sehoole, said a statement on the issue would be issued as soon as it was finalized, but could not confirm when this would be.

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