Analysis of cattle rustling among pastoralists in Niger State, Nigeria
Livestock is a major component of agricultural activities practiced in Niger State; it’s also a source of income and a form of food security for farmers. Increasing attacks by cattle rustlers have disrupted the stability of pastoralists within the communities in the State. This study therefore, examined cattle rustling among pastoralists in Niger State, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to; (i) describe socio-economic characteristics of the pastoralists in the study area; (ii) investigate the pastoralists’ perceived reasons for cattle rustling; (iii) determine the threats posed to pastoralists through cattle rustling and their solutions; (iv) identify the coping strategies adopted by the pastoralists after their cattle have been rustled; and (v) determine how agricultural extension service could curtail the act of cattle rustling. A Multi-stage random sampling technique was used to select 120 respondents for the study. Well-structured questionnaire and an interview schedule were administered to the pastoralists to elicit information. The data obtained was analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings revealed that, 65.0% of the respondents were less than 51 years of age. The majority (62.0%) of the respondents had Quranic education and 39.0% had no formal education. Of 120 pastoralists, 65.0% had their cattle rustled by the rustlers, impunity for crime and police support ranked highest among the reasons for cattle rustling and 80% of the rustlers were Fulani. The findings also revealed that majority (75%) of the respondents were not aware of agricultural extension service, while 27% of the pastoralists had heard about extension services on Radio and 100% had never been visited by extension agents. This implies that cattle’s rustling was a major and rising threat against pastoralists’ livelihood and to the country’s security in general since the act of rustling could trigger the proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition into the country. It is equally obvious that the pastoralists were far from the reach of extension agents which would have provided a strong link between the government and pastoralists in the establishment of grazing reserves along the stock routes.
Keywords: Livestock, Farmers/herdsmen clashes, Livelihood, Pastoralist, Poverty, Illegal arms