More than 14 000 cattle were stolen countrywide last year amid reports 80% of the national herd has no brand marks, making them easy targets for cattle rustlers.
Police national coordinator of the anti-stocktheft unit, Assistant Commissioner Bernard Dumbura, revealed this at the launch of the provincial cattle branding ceremony at Methodist Village outside Bulawayo on Wednesday.
Dumbura said the anti-stocktheft programme started in 2004 after it was established over 27 000 cattle were stolen across the country every year.
He said committees were formed with the aim of reducing cases of stock-theft.
“Following the formation of the anti-stocktheft committees and police unit in 2010, the figure of cattle stolen reduced to 14 802. Only 4 852 cattle were recovered,” said Dumbura.
He said further research by the police anti-stocktheft unit revealed most cattle were stolen because they had no brands.
“Eighty percent of the national herd has no brand marks. As such about 4 000 stray cattle without brand marks were found by the police and later sold in 2010 because no one could identify them,” said Dumbura.
Dumbura said police anti-stocktheft unit and the Registrar-General’s Office introduced brand mark certificates for cattle owners as a stop-gap measure to curb rampant stocktheft in the country.
He said the national cattle branding launch was done on March 23 2011 in Mashonaland West.
Bulawayo provincial registrar Jane Peters urged cattle farmers to obtain brand mark certificates from the registry offices.
Police said the brand marks would assist police in the identification of the cattle when they were lost, stolen or found.