Rustlers Leave Communal Goat Farmers Counting Losses
Goat farming has become a source of livelihood however, this is threatened by livestock rustlers. Image by Jaguza farm
Rustlers are wreaking havoc in Umzingwane, disrupting plans by communal farmers to diversify into goat farming.
UMZINGWANE (The Citizen Bulletin) — Umzingwane in Matabeleland South has good pastures for goats due to its good grass and thorny bushes.
Communal goat farming has been a source of livelihood and iron for many in the province.
However, their source of livelihood is threatened by goat rustlers.
Marvis Nkomo of Nswazi area lost six goats to rustlers recently.
“We have had our livestock disappearing without a trace for many years. We used to think that the goats would have been attacked by wild animals such as jackals yet our area is not a wildlife hotspot.”
Another villager Mandlenkosi Ndlovu says he plans to sell his goats to avoid losses.
For Ndlovu, indications show that the rustlers often strike at night or when the goats are grazing.
The most affected villages in Umzingwane are Nswazi, Newline, Kumbudzi, Munkula and Zidlabusuku.
Another villager Senzeni Moyo says the rustlers are also poisoning their dogs so that they steal their goats undisturbed.
“You hear the dogs barking at night, and all of a sudden there would be silence, and the next morning we find our goats missing,” Moyo says.
Villagers suspect illegal gold panners are behind goat theft in their areas. Image by Nehanda Radio
Samuel Dube of NewLine suspects that illegal gold panners are behind the spate of livestock theft in his area.
“Our concerns are that many youth in the area dropped out of school opting for illegal mining where a lot of criminal activities which include stock theft are committed,” Dube says.
According to Farmers Review Africa, the demand for goat meat is increasing.
Many communal farmers in the province are turning to goat breeding after losing their cattle to the unpredictable weather patterns.
Goats can survive on shrubs and need less manpower for tending to, making them a better choice than high-maintenance cattle, which are less tolerant of drought conditions.
It is estimated that the country has 3, 1 million goats, more than 80% percent of which are owned by communal farmers, the Goat Breeders Association of Zimbabwe says.
According to the national export promotion agency, ZimTrade, the country has an opportunity to develop goat meat exports starting with regional markets such as Angola.
Several countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are thriving from exporting goat meat.
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However, goat theft is giving villagers headaches despite the export opportunities.
“What is worrying is that arrested suspects are not being jailed. They are released after spending a day, or a few days in prison cells. We are left asking ourselves what is happening,” Dube says,
Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena says villagers must form anti-livestock theft committees involving the police to deal with the vice.
“We encourage villagers to brand their stock, pen them and do regular checks of such stock. They must join village anti stock theft committees and report all stolen stock early to police,” Mangena says.
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Umzingwane, Social and Economic justice, Local government
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