A Study on the Comprehensive Comparison between Indigenous Cattle Rustling and Modern Cattle Rustling in West Pokot County, Kenya

Andrew Gitau Kimani, Casper Masiga


Evidence of change in cattle rustling practice among pastoralist communities worldwide has been noted with globalisation, education, and modernisation, among other factors. However, there is little known about transformation in men and women’s involvement in this practice in the wake of easy accessibility of small and light weapons (SALWs) and breakdown of the traditional leadership and control systems. This paper examined the transformation in cattle rustling practice among the Pokot community in West Pokot county. This study’s target population included adult residents of Pokot community, community elders, opinion leaders, political and administrative leaders, and local and international NGOs dealing with cattle rustling issues in West Pokot county. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to recruit 350 respondents. An unstructured questionnaire, a critical informant interview guide, a focus group discussion guide, and an observation guide were used to collect primary data. Qualitative data collected was analysed using patterns and critical themes of this particular objective. Quantitative data analysis was organised using the SPSS software version 2.0 and analysed using various descriptive statistics. The findings indicated that transformation in cattle rustling had seen a cultural activity for the young people to demonstrate their courage and wit and become a murderous criminal endeavour. The community no longer benefits from cattle rustling, but only a few are driven by greed to reap where they never sow. Illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, community conflicts, possession of firearms and insecurity were identified as the leading causes of cattle rustling. Access to formal education has seen many in the school-going age among the West Pokot get exposed to literacy, which has gradually recorded a positive transformation about its cattle rustling practices. Based on the findings, the paper makes the following recommendations to address the problem of cattle rustling among the people of West Pokot County: Enlightenment on contemporary ways of life; formal education among the Pokot to be advocated for; enhancing Security in West Pokot; opening a platform for peace talk and persuasions and operationalising the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO) protocol.


cattle rustling; gender; cattle raids; gender transformation; transformation; raiding

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