LETTER: Cattle at the cost of native species

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The Independent Online
From Mr J. A. Timmer

Sir: I was concerned by your report "Mad cows? Not out of Africa?" (10 January). The production of beef in the fragile arid regions of southern Africa where rinderpest, tsetse fly and foot-and-mouth demand the segregation of cattle from wildlife (which have natural immunity to some diseases) has necessitated the construction of vast fences which prevent wildlife having access to their traditional water, grazing and migration routes.

This has resulted in terrible suffering to indigenous grazing animals and has decimated some species. Additionally, the degradation of natural grassland caused by livestock grazing is evident to anybody flying over Botswana. Furthermore, water management in Namibia by open canal forms a lethal barrier to movement of animals.

While British butchers may wish to avoid British beef because of their fear of BSE, perhaps the vegetarianism of butcher Ken Bell's grandchildren is a far better solution to the problem than his demanding Namibian beef.

Yours faithfully,

J. A. Timmer

London, SE19