Tanzania orders foreign livestock to leave Arusha region

Drought leads to livestock trespassing into national parks in Arusha area.

The Tanzanian government has ordered that the estimated five million livestock that have crossed into Tanzania's northern territory should return to their reputed origins in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda by 15 June.

Tanzania says the problem affects the northern regions of Arusha, Kagera and Geita, where cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys from Kenya and Uganda have been grazing illegally in recent months.

The influx of livestock has been blamed on a worsening drought in east Africa, with desperate herders taking their beasts over the border into Tanzania in search of fresh pasture and water. The Tanzanian government says this has placed an unsustainable strain on the country's resources, harming both the country's ecosystem and tourist safari industry.

The government has also ordered all Tanzanian farmers to remove their livestock from the country's protected parks and game reserves, where they have been grazing recently due to scarcity of food and water elsewhere. Failure to remove the animals by 15 June will result in livestock being evicted.

Government authorities say the trespassing herds have sparked violence in northern Tanzania as herders clash over dwindling pasture and water supplies.

Tanzania has approximately 21 million heads of cattle, the third-largest number in Africa after Ethiopia and Sudan, according to the country's agriculture ministry. However, conservationists claim that farming methods and increasing numbers of livestock in Tanzania are having a devastating impact on the nation's environment.