Donkey owners across the country have petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to issue a directive to close all donkey abattoirs in the country to save the animals from extinction.
They have blamed donkey skin trade and export of donkey meat to the Chinese market for the massive donkey theft and the drastic reduction of its population.
During a donkey stakeholder meeting on Wednesday, the farmers narrated how they have been losing their animals to thieves who sell to the slaughter houses.
Ngachuroo Namuya, a donkey farmer from Turkana County lost her 30 donkeys in a day, rendering her hopeless.
She later learnt that the animals had been taken to a local donkey slaughter house.
Donkeys are major source of livelihoods in the semi-arid Turkana County with statistics showing that the County leads in donkey population with 25 per cent.
“They stole my animals rendering me poor. I couldn’t provide for my family for years. Despite reporting to authorities, no action is taken to stop the theft,” said the elderly woman.
Fred Samba, another farmer from Homa Bay County lost his five donkeys recently, and so are hundreds of donkey farmers across the country.
They said donkey theft can no longer be tamed due to the slaughter houses.
Before the licensing of donkey slaughter houses in 2016, the country’s donkey population was 1.8 million against 1.2 million currently according to a survey done by KALRO.
It showed that given the trend, the animal could be extinct by 2022.
The country has four slaughter houses in Baringo, Naivasha, Turkana and Kithyoko in Machakos County, all with a processing capacity of 1,000 donkeys per day.
The farmers claimed that despite a push to petition county governments that have donkey abattoirs to close them, little action was being undertaken.
The farmers have since tried donkey breeding to increase their population but the programme has failed to work as donkeys take years to reproduce.
The Kahuruko Youth Donkey Group in Mwea, Kirinyaga County has a programme to keep female donkeys for breeding but the results are low, according to the chairman Dennis Muchira.
“Donkeys don’t have Artificial Insemination (AI) programme and only reproduce after mating which may take time. Again given the rate at which we were losing donkeys to theft and slaughtering and their mating cycle, we have to develop another strategy,” said Muchira.
The Programmes Manager Brooke East Africa, an NGO that protects donkey rights, Elijah Mithigi, said they have petitioned the Ministry of State Department for Livestock to ban the slaughter of donkeys but little was being done.
“In order to protect the donkey, the President should ban donkey skin trade and close donkey abattoirs in the country. We depend on these animals for livelihoods and we fear that if drastic action is not taken on time, the species will be wiped out within no time,” said Mithigi.
By Muoki Charles