Ear-tagging of cattle 'no longer solution to stock-theft'

01 Aug 2013 04:40
RUNDU, 01 AUG (NAMPA) - The ear-tagging of livestock in the Northern Communal Areas (NCA) seems to no longer be a solution to minimising stock-theft as criminals now cut the ears of livestock in order to get rid of those tags.
The animals’ ears are cut off with sharp objects so that their origin cannot be traced.
From June to July this year, the Namibian Police have registered 19 cases of stock-theft involving 28 cattle in the Kavango Region, all of which were destined for Angola.
Cases of stock-theft in the region are on the increase, and according to the Namibian Police Force (NamPol)’s Anti-Stock Theft Unit in the region, branding cattle is the only solution to positively identify stolen livestock.
Through this method, livestock is branded using the hot-iron branding system, which is based on registered brand marks.
Speaking to Nampa on Thursday, the Anti-Stock Theft Unit’s Commander, Detective Inspector David Nghishitelwa encouraged livestock owners to apply for a brand mark with the Meat Board of Namibia so that their animals could be identified easily if stolen.
The Anti-Stock Theft Unit Commander explained that most stock theft suspects resort to removing the ear tags from the ears of cattle by cutting their ears off.
Nghishitelwa’s remarks come after the police on Monday discovered 14 cattle, which were stolen and driven into Angola from Namibia.
The police followed the footprints of three suspects, and apprehended them about 15 kilometres (km) into Angola, where the cattle were found with their ear tags removed.
The tags were, however, found hidden in the suspects’ pockets following interrogation by the police.
“I encourage cattle owners to use brandmarks because they are visible, and no one will remove them from the skin,” said the Anti-Stock Theft Unit Commander.
The police on the same day came across a truck belonging to a prominent Rundu-based businessman (name withheld) on the Angolan side of the border. The truck was busy transporting 10 heads of cattle which also had their ear tags removed, Nghishitelwa explained.
The police ordered that the cattle be offloaded because there was no proof of purchase or identification as the ear tags had been removed.
The ear-tagging of livestock is part of the Namibian Livestock Identification and Traceability System (NamLITS) project for the Northern Communal Areas (NCA), which commenced in 2011.
It is aimed at ensuring that people can identify cattle by means of two official ear tags - a radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tag in the left ear, and a visual ear tag in the right ear.
The system was additionally designed to ensure the possibility of tracing sheep, goats and pigs in order to reduce the insecurity risks for these animals as well.