Panic grips farmers in Kerio Valley following mysterious deaths of their livestock

Elgeyo Marakwet Deputy County Commissioner Erick Mlevu said the animals died in Kotut and Kapkondot locations along Kerio River where clashes between communities from West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties have left at least 20 people dead in the last three months.

Panic has gripped livestock farmers in Kerio Valley following mysterious deaths of their animals.

Dozens of cows, sheep and goats died moments after grazing in the vast region and residents suspect that their animals had been poisoned.

The clashes have been precipitated by increased cases of cattle rustling and banditry.

Government officials who included veterinary officers on Wednesday visited the areas and collected samples from the animal’s carcasses and the pasture they had consumed for analysis.

“We want to get the precise cause of death. These samples will be analysed in our laboratories,” said Pius Cheserek, the county’s chief officer for the Department Of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

He said: “We don’t want to speculate whether the animals were poised. We will simply wait for the lab results before drawing correct conclusions”.

Herders who spoke to the Nation said their animals suddenly started shivering, with blood oozing from all openings moments after grazing.

‘PERFECT HEALTH’

“We were surprised because the animals were in perfect health. Then the symptoms started and within no time, the animals were dead. I suspect the farmlands were sprayed with deadly chemicals with intention to harm the livestock,” said Kimaiya Cheserek, a herder.

He said the death of the livestock was a great loss to those who depended on them for their survival.

“This is all we had remained with after the clashes. We thought the situation had returned to normal after the clashes ended. Now look at what is happening?” he said.

They called on the veterinary officers in the region to speed up their testing to enable them know what killed their animals.

“If it is true they were poisoned, those responsible should be apprehended and prosecuted according to the law,” said John Murilla.

He said: “In the meantime, the owner of the farm where cattle grazed on should be arrested. He should also explain what he knows”.

According to Mr Murilla, herders from the neighbouring Pokot region were curious about the cause of livestock deaths because they believe the poisoning targeted their cattle.

“There is no Pokot man who can think of killing or poisoning cattle. This has never occurred. They will only steal the animals and maim their owners as they,” he went on,” he said.

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