Pictures: Conflicts kill regional cattle markets in Africa

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Author’s note: When I search for industry headlines, it’s not uncommon for me to find stories relating to cattle theft incidents. Below are photos of cattle herders in Central African Republic I felt were powerful enough to share.

In a land of distinct sophistication and untamed wilderness, lies an abundance of disparity and hope. In more ways than one, the continent of Africa is a foreign existence to those living in the United States.

A political crisis in Central African Republic (CAR) has cattle herders feeling the hard brunt of it all, creating hatred and religious rivalries. Herders belonging to the Peul tribes in CAR often are targeted by ‘anti-blaka’ militia for their Muslim religion. These raids are most often violent, involving bloodshed and entire herds of cattle.

Muriel Masse, a Medecins Sans Frontieres worker recently shared her experiences while working in Carnot, western city of CAR with the Fula tribe.

“Anti-Balaka groups that have not been won over or controlled are still very active there.  Their goals are primarily profit-based. They want to take power, gain control over land and the area’s diamond mines and steal the Fula’s livestock.  In the bush, attacks on villages continue, along with massacres of dozens of people. The same scenario is replayed each time the violence spikes: anti-balaka forces gather, attack the Fula, steal their animals and sometimes kill people (particularly men). Women and children are spared, in principle. There has been so much theft and pillaging of livestock that the price of one head of cattle has fallen from 150,000 CFA (around $310) to 15,000 CFA (around $31). The Fula have launched reprisal attacks against villages and the general population, setting set fire to everything in their path. People have died and entire villages have taken refuge in the bush. The Fula will not abandon the land and will want to continue to pass through Central African territory, even if they must do so by force. That’s how the conflict is perpetuating itself today, on a very large scale, in western Central African Republic.”

But it’s not just cattle raids that has select cattle markets hurting on the large continent. 

Almost 4,000 miles away in South Africa, a 5-month mining strike has contributed to dumping the cattle market. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union remain unsettled on wages for some of the world’s top platinum producers, killing the rand currency. The group is calling for a salary increase of 12,500 rand a month.

Oupa Mahodina, a striking miner in the city of Rustenburg, will likely have to sell his small herd on a buyers’ market to get through.

“I own 11, but I will have to sell some of them. What can I do? I need the cash," he says. “If I say I want 6,000 rand for this animal, someone will say I only have 4,000 rand, and I will have to take it.”

1 USD = 10.69 ZAR

A man from Peul tribe stands in front of cows at a village outside Bambari May 30, 2014. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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