CARCASSES of livestock which succumbed to drought are reportedly contaminating water sources in Filabusi, Matabeleland South; and villagers now fear a possible outbreak of diseases.

Villagers told Southern Eye last week that the drought had claimed dozens of cattle and donkeys whose carcasses are decomposing on river beds and dams after being trapped in mud.

Sibongile Khumalo said the most affected was the Insiza River that feeds into the Insiza Dam, which is Bulawayo’s main source of water.

“The most affected are villagers who use the Insiza River as a water source, those here at Filabusi Centre, Mapenga Area, Pangani Training Centre, Silalatshani village and many other villages who use the river as their water source,” she said.

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“At many water sources, several cattle have died in water and their owners do not retrieve the carcasses to dispose them safely, so they decompose in water which is now a health threat.”

She called on the relevant authorities to dispose of the decomposing carcasses.

“We are appealing for authorities to intervene or hire people to remove the decomposing cattle carcasses from water sources and burn them to prevent a possible health hazard,” Khumalo said.

Another villager said flood waters from the heavy downpour experienced on Tuesday last week have since swept most of the carcasses into dams.

“Today (on Tuesday last week) as we speak there are heavy rains and most of the dead and decomposing cattle bodies are being washed into our drinking water sources, it’s not safe anymore,” Sithabile Sibanda said.

Contacted for comment, Insiza disctrict co-ordinator Zakaria Jusa said he had tasked traditional leaders to identify owners of the dead livestock and order their proper disposal to avoid further contamination of water sources.

“For the past two weeks, I have been meeting village heads asking them to go around checking for cattle which might have died and their owners are not yet known. I advised them to trace the owners so that such cattle are properly disposed of to avoid the contamination of rivers,” Jusa said.

“We encourage villagers to take care of their livestock all the time and all people must be responsible in keeping their environment clean by always trying to do something when they see a dead cow, it’s either they approach the village heads to ask them to do something or they remove it themselves,” Jusa said.