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Tanganyika (Rinderpest Control)

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he can make a statement on the operations of the rinderpest control in Tanganyika; and whether both schemes to which grants have been made under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, 1940, are working satisfactorily?

As a statement on this subject is necessarily rather long, I will, with my hon. Friend's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The work, which is being assisted from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote, is proceeding with generally satisfactory results.

Could my right hon. and gallant Friend say in just a word whether this disease has been got under in Africa now?

Following is the statement:

In 1939 a serious outbreak of rinderpest in Southern Tanganyika threatened an extension of the disease into Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland and further South. A campaign was undertaken for its suppression by the vaccination of all cattle in Tanganyika to the South of the Central Railway. To afford more permanent security against the spread of the disease Southwards, it was subsequently agreed that all cattle in certain areas should be permanently immunised, and that veterinary control and intelligence services should be maintained throughout Tanganyika. Funds amounting to £64,000 were provided from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote for this purpose, to cover a period of two years which ended on 30th September, 1942.

These measures were not entirely successful in eliminating the risks, owing to the appearance of rinderpest in game at various points not far from the Northern Rhodesia boundary. It was therefore decided to erect a game fence along the Tanganyika/Northern Rhodesia boundary, and to reinforce the fence by patrols and a game-free strip of at least 25 miles in depth on either side of the fence. A part of this further work is also being financed from the Colonial Development and Welfare Vote at a cost of £29,300. At the beginning of this year two further schemes were made under the Act, one for the erection of 50 miles of duplicate fence on the Northern side of the original fence, in place of the 25 mile game-free belt on the Southern side, which would have interfered with an experiment in tsetse fly control in the region of Abercorn. A free grant of £3,000 has been made for this purpose. Another free grant of £4,640 has been made for research into the part played by wild game as reservoirs and carriers of rinderpest. The present operations in Southern Tanganyika afford an exceptional opportunity for research on this subject, of which little has hitherto been known.

The position at the end of 1942 was that although the intelligence service mentioned above had been active, no rinderpest infection has been found in cattle for a considerable time, but infection in game was suspected in the extreme North of the Lake Rukwa area, and possibly further North still. Inoculations of suspected cattle were proceeding steadily, except in one area where action had been held up by an outbreak of East Coast fever. When this area has been dealt with, there will be a solid belt of rinderpest-immune cattle for 200 miles Northwards from the Rhodesia-Tanganyika frontier. Writing on 9th January, 1943, the Director of Veterinary Services in Tanganyika said that at the moment his Department was unable to find any rinderpest infection in either cattle or game in the area lying South of the Central Railway, but both game and cattle areas were under careful and continuous inspection.

A meeting of representatives of the territories concerned was arranged by the Government of Southern Rhodesia to take place in February, 1943, but no report of this conference has yet been received.