Rat hunting causing mass livestock migrations in Uganda’s Karamoja

Karamoja herds

ON THE MOVE; Herdsmen and their animals trekking for pastures

Most pastoralists attribute grass destruction to rat hunters in the sub region who have burnt unspecified hectares in search of edible rats, a delicacy in most parts of Karamoja where it is common to find hunters selling rats along the roads.

The uncontrollable and fast moving fires have also destroyed several settlements in Napak, Moroto, Kaabong and Kotido districts and local leaders say that the sub region has sufficient water but no pastures for animals because rat hunters have destroyed the flora.

The Napak District Chairperson Joseph Lomonyang,said the increasing shortage of pasture may cause conflict, adding that much as the Jie herders are in Napak, his own have moved to Amuria district.

“We need to come up with some ordinances and by laws at sub county level so that people can be mobilized and sensitized on the dangers of burning the vegetation around,” he said

Echoing Lomonyang, Peter Logiro, the Resident District Commissioner Kotido noted the  uncontrollable burning of grasslands has led to severe migrations. Most pastoralists in this area have moved to neighboring Abim, Agago and Napak districts.

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Karamoja on the Map

Aol Mark Musooka, the District Chairperson Moroto warned that with the climatic changes being experienced disaster could strike Karamoja if  it doesn’t rain soon

“As we speak there is no pasture, in fact we are heading for danger. I am not sounding alarmist but God forbid should rain not come by the end of this month or should it go up to the end of April we are likely to lose livestock and that means things like malnutrition and human diseases will set in,” he said

According to authorities, all the pasture has been burnt to ashes, this is not a phenomenon only common to Moroto but the whole region to the extent that even the water facilities hosting the four communities of the Matheniko, Jie, the Bokora and Turkana from Kenya have water but the pastoralists are running away.

Francis Pavuga, the District Veterinary Officer Kotido says migrations of animals to distant places will affect diets among households.