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The Street Cows of Maasailand

Street Cows of Maasailand

Most of us know or have heard of street children but have maybe not heard of street cows. According to, street children are defined as minors who live and survive on the streets and often grow up in public landfills, train stations, or under the bridges of the world’s major cities. 

We might soon need a definition of a street cow as most of them now live and survive on the streets of major towns living off from mama mboga stalls and garbage heaps.

A cow rummages for food in a dirty garbage pit

It was a lousy Saturday, those days when sleep departs from you faster than the speed of light. I was thinking, “Is it swimming again today? In that very shallow pool? Well, no!”

I went to the shop and boom, I got a story. I had frequently spotted stray cows eating from a heap of garbage nearby. I quickly ran back and grabbed my camera and what followed was a tale too sweet not to be captured.

A bunch of eight cows roam the residential estates of Narok eating from garbage heaps and collecting any other junk they feel fit for their four stomachs.

Cows eat paper from a dirty garbage pit in Narok

There is no shepherd to herd them except three black dogs that watch over them. The dogs are so skilled in their work that they would bark if the cows tried to venture into unfamiliar territories. Locals claim that the cows were owned by someone with evil spirits because the dogs that herd them are so skilled in their work.

Cows herded by three black dogs as they eat from a pit in Lenana Narok
One of the black dogs that herd the street cows that eat garbage from heaps of dirt

I started imagining eating meat from such animals. I felt so bad when I saw this.

A cow eats junk from a garbage pit

Even the dogs were also looking for something to eat from the garbage. Maybe some rotten meat would do for them.

A cow scratches its body on a garbage pit in Narok

I then remembered that I saw many other cows in the streets of Narok and so I carried my camera and decided to go and expound on my story. The first sight was of two cows with bloated stomachs probably from the junk they have been eating from on the streets.

Cows roam the streets of Narok looking for something to eat
Motorists evade cows sitting beside the streets of Narok

A shocker was that one laid down in the Narok-Bomet highway unaware of the danger it poses to motorists and passengers.

A cow sits in the middle of the road in the Narok Bomet highway

Apparently, it is not only in Narok that cows just roam on its street. Back in 2018, Nairobi County detained over 500 cows according to Nairobi News.

A herd of cattle scavenge in piles of garbage along Jogoo road, Nairobi in this picture taken on July 17, 2017. The county government of Nairobi has detained about 500 cattle found roaming in the city. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE

An article on the Standard also shows how motorists struggle to protect their side mirrors because apparently, cows take too much space on the roads.

Motorists protect their side mirrors and windows when the cows invaded Langata road PHOTO: COURTESY

I wrote how climate change has really affected the Maasai. This is because of the subdivision of land from communal land (group ranches) to private land thus minimizing grazing land. This, therefore, forced the Maasai to look for alternative sources of living.

I call upon political leaders especially Maasai politicians, concerned bodies, and the government to try and mitigate this. The Maasai need to evolve into other ways of living lest they go extinct.

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