Kenya is set to ban the slaughter of donkeys as part of the government’s effort to prevent their declining numbers and increased cases of theft to satisfy the demand for the export market.
Agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya on Monday gave a directive to shut down all donkey abattoirs in the country within the next one month.
“We want to stop that criminality, we want to stop that criminality, restore the donkey to its rightful place in our society supporting livelihoods…,” said the CS following a petition from the donkey owners.
According to the CS, the policy that allowed the slaughter for donkeys was not thought out well.
“The slaughter of donkeys and trade-in related donkey products has promoted vices like stealing of donkeys, the wanton and unmitigated slaughter of donkeys, which has led to the drastic reduction in the donkey population. This has, consequently, impacted negatively the economic welfare and the livelihoods of the families of those who rely on donkeys for transport and as a means of facilitating trade.
If this trend continues the donkeys will be decimated and the economy will be affected in a huge way. We have therefore decided to stop the slaughter and the trade-in donkey associated products, ” Agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya.
China’s demand for e’jiao’ — a traditional medicine made by boiling donkey skin, is outstripping supply and to satisfy it, it is importing donkeys from around the world, mainly Africa.
Kenya has four abattoirs slaughtering at least 1,000 donkeys every day.
According to Brooke East Africa, an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules, the slaughter of donkeys in Kenya is at five times the rate of donkey reproduction and fears by 2023 Kenya will have no donkeys left.
“..Pronouncements by the Cabinet Secretary, Minister Livestock & agriculture Hon. Peter Munya, to ban the slaughter of donkeys is a welcome reprieve to donkey owning communities..! the organisation says.
In Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, and the Gambia have banned donkey skin trade.
In 2017, Quartz Africa reported that as African countries ban the trade, “Kenya doubles down to meet Chinese demand”. Consequently, “The price of an adult donkey in the country (Kenya) has soared to between $90 and $130 from $40 in less than two years.”
in 2014, KSh350 million was invested into the Mogotio abattoir by Chinese investors, and the Naivasha donkey slaughterhouse by a local investor where it is reported that approximately 400 donkeys are slaughtered daily.
A third abbottoir -Goldox Kenya Ltd was established in Chemogoch in Baringo County at a cost of KSh300 million.
China Dialogue reported that Kenya’s newest donkey abattoir is located in Machakos county was set up in 2018 by Chinese multinational the Fuhai Group and slaughters 300 to 400 animals a day below its maximum capacity of 1,000.
Brooke East Africa reported that almost 1000 donkeys have been stolen across Kenya between December 2016 and April 2017.
A report ‘Assessment of the status of animal welfare and compliance to OIE standards in the IGAD Member States’ by the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) finds out that Kenya has in place the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act Cap 360, which is dedicated to Animal Welfare.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act provides for prevention of cruelty to animals; control of experiments on animals; and other incidental matters; in subsidiary legislation, it also provides for prevention of cruelty to animals during transportation.
“However, enforcement is inadequate.”
According to The Veterinary Policy 2015, specifies key challenges facing the animal resource industry and provides direction in addressing each of them.
The policy states that “Despite their valuable contributions to human society, research and development into donkey use has been minimal.”
“A number of factors explain why donkeys have low status. They are usually the cheapest, often the only affordable, work animals and therefore tend to be associated with the poor,” reads part of the policy.