Cattle rustling in Zamfara rural communities has seriously affected animal rearing activities among women and has scaled up the rate of poverty in the communities, Caliphate Trust reports.
In recent times, thousands of cows and other domestic animals have been stolen in the herding and farming communities of the state. The activities of the rustlers have impoverished a large section of the rural women, who largely depend on goat, sheep and sometimes cattle rearing for a living.
In most of the rural communities in the state, animal rearing has been a business among for the womenfolk. They rear and sell their animals in preparation for their daughters’ marriages.
During a visit to Wanke village, some women who spoke with our correspondent narrated how they lost their animals to thieves overnight.
Mariya, a housewife, said, “I had four cows, I bought two and inherited the other two after my father’s death. I lost all the cows, including 16 goats and 13 sheep to thieves. I have no single animal now.
“Before the thieves raided our community, after every one year, I would sell some goats worth N100,000 to N150,000. In fact, from the money I used to raise, I helped my husband buy roofing sheets for two rooms he built in the house.”
Another housewife simply identified as Hajara said she was about selling her two bulls to marry out her daughter when rustlers struck and took away the cows and that she had to run to her brother for help.
She said, “If you go to our villages, a lot of women depend on animal rearing for their livelihood. Housewives do what is called “Tirka” (animal fattening) and are making a lot of money from it.
‘’However, this aspect of business has been abandoned. I know of a woman who after spending a lot to fatten her animal, rustlers invaded their village and carted away all the animals there, including hers, and her dream was shattered.”
However, as most of the women recounted nasty experiences, some women expressed satisfaction on the success they have recorded in the business.
“I’m have nothing less than 140 goats, including 40 sheep. Last month, I sold about 20 of them and made about N200, 000 and I bought a motorbike for my jobless son and he is doing commercial riding,” Ramatu Inusa said.
Mallam Aliyu, a resident of Mashema village, had no option other than to give the suspected bandits a chase not minding the risk involved in an attempt to reclaim his wives’ cows.
He said, “I was inside my hut that night when I started to hear gunshots some yards away from our settlement. I woke up my wife. She advised that we should go into hiding but I told her we could not go and leave behind our herd of cattle at the mercy of the rustlers.”
Another resident, Yusuf Hali, said in the last seven years more than 2,000 cows had been stolen in Maji, Fanda Haki, Matankari, Yar Katsina and Bingi communities; mostly in Maru LGA.
Residents devise solution
A resident of one of the villages identified as Abubakar acknowledged the challenges the rural women are facing in raising their animals.
He said the menace had really affected the economy of the rural women.
However, he said some communities were devising means to curb the menace.
He explained that, “In some societies, there is a system rural dwellers have adopted to shield their animals from theft called ‘A sako’. The system involves employing one or two rearers who would take care and herd the whole animals in the community for grazing in the day time.
“What they normally do is that the women and any other person having cows or goats in a village will bring them out in the morning. The ‘A sako’ man would blow his whistle to signal his arrival in the village and women would start untying their animals and bring them to a meeting point. After the whole animals in the community are gathered, the man would then herd them away for grazing and would not come back until evening.
“The ‘A sako’ man is being paid a fixed amount of money per animal; be it a cow or goat, every day, week or month depending on the agreement reached. This is being done to ensure the protection of the animals because it is easier to raid and seize such animals at home.”