Operators of abattoirs have come under fire for slaughtering pregnant cows and selling the animal’s immature young to the public contrary to the animal welfare laws.

The ugly practice, animal rights activities argue, is contrary to the Animal Disease Act of 2003 and its Ante and Postmortem Inspection regulations of 2007 Section 6 (7) that forbid the slaughtering of pregnant cows.

Minister Dr David Mathayo David

Under the law and regulations cows which are six month pregnant cannot be slaughtered, but recently there has been a growing practice of killing the animals and offering the fetuses as food for dogs and apparently to humans.

A survey by this paper has established that some of the foetuses are sold at the slaughter houses of Ukonga and Vingunguti in Dar es Salaam.

A source who preferred anonymity told this paper that the foetuses are always damped at the sites where buyers make their picks.

Some malicious people, he said, use the opportunity to collect the same whereby they use them for various purposes.

The slaughter houses are always under tight security, he said, adding: “If you are caught collecting such stuff you will be in trouble.”

Livestock Development and Fisheries ministry said it was not aware of the practice with Minister Dr David Mathayo David clarifying that the Animal Welfare Act of 2010 Section 31(1) forbids the slaughter of pregnant cows.

He added that there are conditions under which a pregnant cow can be slaughtered, such as when suspected to be suffering from a disease that can be transmitted to other animals.

“And Section 31 (2) demands that the veterinary officer responsible in testing the animal’s pregnancy should satisfy himself that it is necessary to be slaughtered,” said Dr Mathayo.

The minister said however that the ministry had not received any information regarding the sale of foetus whether for dogs or for human consumption.

“If this is happening then it has health effects to the consumers and if such people are found, the law will take its course in accordance with the Tanzania Food and Drugs Act of 2003,” he said.

Dr Mathayo gave the number of animals slaughtered in the city per day as 507 cows, 279 goats/sheep, 34 pigs and 600 chickens.

He affirmed that pregnant cows can only be transported after the veterinary officer has issued a permit or in the course of it be transferred to another place for pasture but not for slaughter.

The minister noted that in every livestock auction, there is an officer who ensures that pregnant cows are not transported for slaughtering.

He later cautioned all the slaughter houses and animal dealers who involve themselves either in transporting or slaughtering pregnant cows to immediately stop the practice or face the law.

By DAVID KISANGA, The Guardian

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