Cattle Rustling and the Challenge of Border Insecurity

By Martin Igwe, West African Regional 1st Vice President, West African Action Network on Small Arms (WAANSA Nigeria)

Cattle Rustling or Cattle raiding is the act of steeling many cattle at once. In Australia such stealing is often referred to as doffing while perpetrator are referred to as duffers in North America especially in the wild west cowboy culture, cattle theft is dubbed rustling while an individual engaged in it is dubbed rustler.

Some study has confirmed that some of the causes of the menace of cattle rustling is as a result of ungoverned space which serves as hideout for criminals.
Week security system, porosity of our landborders and increase in illegal small arms and light weapons proliferation. Cattle rustling affect engagement and actualization of developments incentives that provide avenues for individuals to advance their lives.

Conflict in the Karamoja region of Uganda which bordered Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia was caused by cattle rustling, group of pastoralist who see it as a traditional practice to acquire wealth.

Cattle raiding by Islamic extremist is soaring at unprecedented level with jihads linked to Al-Quida and the Islamic state groups stealing millions of dollars worth of cattle to buy weapons and vehicles to fund their insurgency across the war-tom west Africa country and region in the Sahara Desert known as the Sahel.

The progressive occurrence of cattle rustling involving armed bandits in Nigeria has been triggered by herders in farming communities at Zamfara State in North West Nigeria remains a major hots part for cattle rustling activities, Northern Nigeria experience with cattle rustling is now extending throughout Lake Chad basin having drastic impact in Borno State livestock markets. Madagascar serves as another example of these evolving and continental dynamics. Banditry linked to the raid of Zeba Cattle. This made the Island suffer political instability magnified by introduction of modern weaponing and criminal groups which became more professional across Africa. A first step toward curbing cattle rustling would be greater acknowledgement of the key role played by pastoralism as a source of livelihoods and National and regional economic growth. Increased protection and political will to implement policies capable of protecting genuine herders against treats of transnational organized crime and it regimes coordinated regional response.

A solution that could contain cattle rustling activities among border communities must involved latest technologies as most of the affected regions are characterized by hostile terrains with inadequate physical and communication infrastructures. No adequate mechanism in place to aid in identification and recovery of stolen animals which is necessary in addressing these challenges in the affected areas.

Finally Cross border community action to compliment regional and national efforts can go a long way in eliminating this social vice that has remain historic in issues of global insecurity in recent times.