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Karimojong pastoralists appeal for revival of electronic animal branding

Pastoralists in Karamoja region have appealed to the government to revive the project of electronic animal branding, saying it is helpful for proper identification of raided animals.

Peter Dengel, one of the pastoralists and a resident of Kacheri Sub County in Kotido district, told theCooperator that at present many of the younger animals are not electronically branded, making it difficult for the army to identify the rightful owners of cattle recovered from rustlers.

“We need the government to revive that project that ended seven years back because it was a good project and it had slowed down cattle rustling because the animals were in position to be identified even if they are sold,” he said.

Government, through the initiative of then Minister of Karamoja Affairs, First Lady, Janet Museveni, launched electronic cattle branding in 2012, with the aim of getting rid of cattle rustling in the Karamoja region.

The Shs 2bn project saw a total of 80,000 cattle within the region branded, while 112,000 cattle remained unbranded due to insufficient funds.

Under the electronic branding method, the animal swallows electronic boluses containing all the details of the owner, including village, parish and district. If that animal is raided and recovered, it can then be identified using a special computer stick.

Mary Nangiro, a mother and a resident of Kaloi parish in Moroto district said all the animals that were electronically branded under the project have since been slaughtered or sold, while those that are left are young and need to be branded to reduce cattle rustling.

“Before the electronic branding project was introduced, we had a lot of issues in the community related to handing over the recovered animals to the rightful owners because even those whose animals hadn’t been would claim the recovered animals. The program had eliminated that practice because the machine tells the rightful owner of the cattle,” he said.

The pastoralists’ calls for the revival of the project follows the recent recurrence of cattle raids among the Karimojong that is affecting their means of survival.

John Lorot, the former district Chairperson of Nakapiripirit, supported the pastoralists’ appeal, saying the government needs to revive the project because of its usefulness in aiding the recovery of stolen cattle and handing them over to the rightful owners.

John Byabagambi, the Minister in charge of Karamoja Affairs, when contacted, said he will present the appeal to cabinet so that it can be handled if resources are available.

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