‘Cattle war’ rages amid CAR sectarian violence
Targeting cattle within the country’s religious strife inflicts direct economic damage.
Trade in the livestock is a major source of income for around 300,000 people in the nation of five million, and constituted over 10 percent of GDP in the 2000s, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
The value of cattle has caused herds to be alternatively pillaged or massacred by raiders in virtually all sectors of the country’s north and west.
That campaign has choked off supplies to the capital, Bangui, causing the PK 12 cattle auction and slaughterhouse to the north of the city to be shuttered.
“Herd figures have dropped by 77 percent compared to levels before the crisis, due to mass slaughter and theft,” said the FAO.
The agricultural violence is the most recent reverberation of unrest following the March 2013 overthrow of President Francois Bozize by Muslim Seleka rebels in favour of their leader, Michel Djotodia.
Djotodia was forced to step aside in turn for failing to quell sectarian violence between Seleka members and Christian militias known as the anti-balaka, whose deadly clashes erupted in 2013 and 2014 across the country.
The primary human victims of the recent cattle war chapter of that conflict are Mbororo livestock farmers — members of the Muslim Fula ethnic group caught between anti-balaka and Seleka hatred.