• Mt Elgon residents at Chepkitale Game Reserve have decried the ongoing theft of their cattle by people believed to be from neighbouring Uganda.
• The issue is likely to strain relations between Kenya and Uganda.
Mt Elgon residents at Chepkitale Game Reserve say people believed to be Ugandans are stealing their cattle.
This issue is likely to strain the working relationship between the two neighbours.
Addressing the press in Bungoma town, Chepyuk MCA Franklin Simotwo said theft of cows and donkeys will increase poverty in the region that depends on livestock.
The Ndorobos and Ogiek clans of the Sabaot community mostly depend on hunting and gathering and have turned to farming to survive.
"We are tired of our cattle being stolen by people from our neighbouring country, we want this vice to stop at once before it creates a war between us," Simotwo said
He said cattle rustlers from Uganda have been raiding Chepkitale ranches and have so far stolen more than 50 herds, leaving owners devastated.
"We are not going to tolerate this anymore, we will retaliate to protect our little wealth that we use for survival. How will we feed and educate our families if we depend on cattle that are stolen?" he asked.
Simotwo called on the multi-agency security team in Bungoma county led by county commissioner Samuel Kimitu and the county police commandant to swiftly end the rustling.
There was no immediate comment from the commissioner's office.
He said people living in Mt Elgon forest are likely to suffer a huge loss if rustlers from Uganda are allowed to roam the region at will.
"We depend on cattle for survival, we don't want to lose them to a few rustlers who want to harvest where they haven't sown," Simotwo.
The majority of Mt Elgon residents depend on farming for survival and cattle play an important role in improving their livelihood.
"We won't keep quiet while our animals are being driven away by strangers, it is very expensive to keep such animals and we won't let some petty thieves steal them from us," the MCA said.
Efforts to get comment from the county commissioner's office were not successful.
(Edited by V. Graham)