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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 17:28 GMT
Ethiopia hit by massive animal smuggling
Ethiopia cattle
The country is the largest producer of livestock in Africa
By Nita Bhalla in Addis Ababa

Smuggling of live animals, hides and skins from Ethiopia into neighbouring countries is costing the country's treasury an estimated $100m each year.

According to Ethiopia's Livestock Marketing Authority the animals are taken to Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti on a daily basis.

Ethiopia's livestock
35m cattle
18.4m goats
24m sheep
53m poultry

Although Ethiopia is the biggest producer of livestock in Africa, official figures from the Ethiopian Customs Authority say that in the five years to 1999, it exported only 31,068 sheep, 2,359 goats and a mere 959 cows.

Neighbouring Somalia on the other hand exported 1.25 million sheep and 850,000 goats in one year alone, making a fortune for the country, it is claimed.

Ethiopian experts say the comparatively low export figures from Ethiopia, which ranks as the world's 25th largest producer, suggest that some two-thirds of Somalia's livestock export originates from Ethiopia.

Poor facilities

The lack of proper infrastrututue to enable pastoralists to sell their animals legally has contributed to the scale of the illegal activity.

But Belachew Hurisa of the Livestock Marketing Authority says that something is now being done.

Ethiopia cattle
The country is the 25th biggest producer in the world

He says the authorities have responded to the alarming rise in the number of smuggled animals by setting up an animal centre in Moyale town on the border with Kenya.

Mr Belachew hopes this will provide economic incentives and better facilities to entice pastoralists back into trading their flock through the recognised channels.

Livestock is the country's second biggest foreign currency earner, second to coffee.

See also:

01 Apr 00 | Africa
Why is famine back again?
30 Jul 01 | Africa
Kenya bans trading with Somalia
31 Jul 01 | Africa
Khat shortage hits Somalia
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