Moi: “Shoot to kill cattle rustlers.”

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2000:

Nairobi––Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi on December 23 ordered police to shoot armed cattle rustlers on sight. Moi spoke at the Shadrack Kimalel Primary School in Baringo, while attending a goat auction held to fund education throughout the district. The sale of 3,029 donated goats fetched nearly $40,000.

Rustling and related massacres among members of the Pokot, Marakwet, Kalenjin, and Jemp tribes of the North Rift district have produced civil unrest which has in turn hurt the development of tourism and oil fields.

Moi issued a similar shootto-kill order pertaining to armed elephant and rhino poachers in 1984. It was invoked as recently as January 2, when Kenya Wildlife Service rangers killed four poachers––three of whom shot back with automatic rifles––just after the poachers killed four elephants in Kora National Park near Garissa.

Shoot-to-kill was not previously extended to cattle rustlers, however, who often also poach, and was never applied to poachers who use snares instead of guns, because while armed poaching has always been done mostly by outsiders, both rustling and illegal snaring have long been practiced by indigenous tribes within Kenya. Much of the rustling was historically semi-symbolic, associated with settling bride prices and other ritual debts, and rarely led to murder.

That changed in recent years, ANIMAL PEOPLE was told while in Kenya. Somali militias are now both poaching and rustling, as opportunity permits; kill whoever gets in their way; and leave feuding Kenyan tribes to blame each other for murders that members of neither tribe committed.

Whatever the Somali role, the violence has escalated. In late October, for instance, Pokot raiders in a Kalenjin district near Lake Baringo were blamed for killing 12 people, including seven children under the age of five, in a series of raids which netted about 100 cattle.

Moi pledged that all cattle would be seized from any village found harboring stolen animals.

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