Caritas, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has expressed concern over mistreatment and abuse of donkeys by their respective owners in the country.
The NGO, which operates in Kitui County decried numerous reports recorded at its offices on livestock crimes committed particularly on donkeys either by their owners or other members in community.
The officer in charge of donkeys’ protection programme at Caritas, Martin Mwendwa, while speaking to KNA in his office in Kitui town, acknowledged the benefits of donkey to the owners.
Mr Mwendwa said: “This is an important domestic animal in any homestead and needs to be accorded equal protection as other domestic animals.”
He observed that, based on recent data, there are 163,000 donkeys in Kitui County which forms a critical resource in community development because it helps rural households in their diverse transportation needs, draught power on agriculture, access to water for domestic and commercial consumption, construction, dowry exchange among other trade value chains.
“Despite this immense support on livelihoods, the donkey has been neglected and suffer diverse welfare issues including being overworked throughout the day without feed and failure to recognize care and protection by their owners,” Mwendwa observed.
He regretted that, numerous cases involving the abuse of donkeys, poor husbandry practices and slaughtering for their meat has created a volatile environment for donkey care and survival across the country as well.
“Others even load luggage on injured backs of their donkeys and force them to push overloaded and heavy carts, while others assault by beating them harshly,” the donkey protection program officer complained.
“There are many illegal bush-slaughters, while others are skinned alive. What brutality is done to such an important domestic animal, with blood and flesh, so painful”, Mwendwa decried.
He noted that they are doing follow up on bush slaughtering, skinning and bestiality and will have those mistreating and abusing them, prosecuted.
“As Caritas we advocate for closure of donkey abattoirs and trade of their products, including the one recently opened at Kithyoko trading centre in Machakos County. This is to ensure that no more donkeys are slaughtered in our county,” he noted.
“We are also on massive public campaign awareness aimed at educating members of the public to understand that donkeys are domestic animals just like cows and goats and should be treated fairly. This includes feeding them well, taking care of their health by according them medical attention as well as avoiding overworking them,” the donkey protection crusader said.
He urged owners and members of public to report cases of donkey mistreatment and abuse to Caritas or any animal care authority for action to be taken against the culprits.
By Denson Mututo and Rose Mwangangi