Security agencies in Laikipia County have recovered 191 heads of cattle believed to have been stolen by rustlers from local farmers.
The stock which are believed to have been stolen several months ago were later handed over back to their rightful owners.
A combined security detail comprising of Kenya Police, the Anti-Stock Theft Unit and the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), carried out the operation for the last three months in Laikipia and the neighboring Baringo County yielded in the recovery of the animals.
Laikipia County Commissioner, Daniel Nyameti, who oversaw the handing back of the cattle to their owners at Kinamba Police Station in Laikipia West Sub-county, Tuesday, said that the operation to flush out cattle rustlers in the area and to recover more stolen animals would continue until the area was rid of the bandits.
“A similar security operation earlier to flush out the bandits out of Kapedo area, led to some of them shifting base at the expansive Laikipia Nature Conservancy where we have been engaging them until we recovered the animals,” Nyameti said.
The County Commissioner added that more focus would be on the Laikipia Nature Conservancy as cattle rustlers use it as a hideout to smuggle the stolen animals out of the area.
Farmers who managed to trace their cows at the Kinamba Police Yard were of praise for the operation that led to the recovery and urged the government to increase security personnel in the area as it was always prone to bandit attacks mostly due to its proximity to the neighbouring volatile counties.
Mary Wanjiku, 79 from Rubere village was all joy after she positively identified her cow and a calf stolen a year ago and was allowed to drive them home but called for increased security in the area.
“I am happy to have received my cows back but am afraid that they (rustlers) might come back for it if they raid our village again. The government should post more police officers in this region to enhance patrols especially at night since we hardly sleep,” a tearful Wanjiku said after getting back her cows.
Eunice Mumbi 65, and John Ndung’u 64 both from Matuiku village said that they were able to identify and recover a cow each from those at the police yard despite having lost more to the rustlers in their village in February this year.
“They stole two of my cows which I used to milk when they raided my homestead in February, I am happy I have been able to get one back and pray that the police operation will help in recovering the other one soon” Nding’u said as he drove his heifer home.
The identification exercise conducted by security personnel was rigorous for the locals as they were supposed to produce Occurrence Book number issued by the police station where they reported the theft of the animals and where possible, produce photos of the same to prove ownership.
Nyameti said that the day-long exercise was thorough and was meant to ensure fairness as only the rightful owners of the cattle were to get them back. He urged those who were not able to trace their animals to be patient expressing confidence that more would be recovered soon.
By Martin Munyi