Leaders in the Karamoja and Teso sub-regions have embarked on the branding of cattle to ease identification and minimize the exaggeration of numbers.
The leaders drawn from the districts of Napak, Nabilatuk and the neighbouring districts of Teso convened at Olilim trading centre in Katakwi district on Saturday to develop new strategies for a peaceful co-existence.
During the meeting, the leaders resolved to brand and register all cattle to address the exaggeration of animals stolen and recovered because the vice is frustrating security efforts to track and hand over the animals to the rightful owners.
Napak District Chairperson John Paul Kodet says that they resolved to brand all the animals because the communities had taken advantage to exaggerate the number of animals raided so that they could gain more extra cows if recovered.
He explains that each sub-county will have its own symbol to address the problem of exaggeration and that they have already procured the branding equipment that shall be kept in the sub-county headquarters for the exercise which will be conducted in the presence of security forces, local leaders and the community.
Kapelebyong District Chairperson Francis Akorikin said that the cattle theft has turned into a business and hoped that branding the animals would avert the practice of forgeries and exaggeration of the numbers of animals raided and enable security to track clear numbers.
He said that it is surprising that the community has started claiming animals which were stolen 10 years ago and they are also targeting the animals which are being recovered recently.
Akorikin is optimistic that the Initiative of cattle branding would help to solve the problem of impounded animals overstaying in holding ground for failure to identify the real owners of cows.
Vicent Okwii, the Katakwi deputy Resident District Commissioner said that they are stuck with five cows which were lost and found as three people appeared each claiming their ownership.
Okwii said such incidents have been happening and sometimes they end up keeping the cows in the holding ground which is also a challenge because animals are not properly managed.
Meanwhile, in the districts of Nabilatuk and Nakapiripirit, the leaders suggested that all the livestock from the Amudat district and the neighbouring Turkana from Kenya should be registered before entering their districts for grazing.
Micheal Okurut, the Resident District Commissioner for Nakapiripirit said that the registration could also help to avert the exaggeration of animals when raided and also regulate their movements.
Okurut also noted that registration will help them as leaders to designate pastoralist grazing areas according to their population.
However, Joseph Balikuddembe, the UPDF 3rd division commander opposed the idea of branding cattle saying the system has been there for a very long time but was unfortunately mismanaged.
Balikuddembe noted that the branding of animals has been happening in Kaabong district where leaders started re-branding stolen cows to destroy their identity so the owners cannot recognize them.
The joint security forces are currently conducting inter-district dialogue meetings aimed at designing possible solutions to end the recycled cattle raids.
The dialogue peace meeting involves local leaders from Karamoja and other affected neighbouring districts of Kween, Bulambuli and the bordering districts from the Teso sub-region.