Residents of Ormapinu village in Rombo, Kajiado South are up in arms over rampant theft of donkeys in the area.
The residents complained that many donkeys were being stolen and sneaked into Tanzania where they are sold and slaughtered.
They said the commissioning of four donkey slaughterhouses in the country in 2016 had led to a high demand of the animals resulting in their theft.
Maria Nasieku, one of the residents, said over 20 donkeys have been stolen in the area in the past two months including two of hers.
She said she depends on the donkeys to eke a living and called on the police to apprehend the thieves, some of whom are well known by the locals.
“There is widespread theft of donkeys with two or three donkeys going missing every week. We depend on these donkeys to earn a living and the theft has really set us back,” she said.
She revealed that tracing the animals has not been possible as the village is at the border of Tanzania and the stolen animals are normally driven across to the neighbouring country where there is high demand for its skins.
Dorcas Kaaka, said she has lost eleven donkeys from last year to date and despite her reporting to the authorities, none of them have been recovered.
Kaaka said when a donkey goes missing, it is women who are forced to go looking for them. In the Maasai culture, donkeys belong to women thus, men do not help in recovery efforts.
She said the theft had left many women desolate as they had invested all their savings to buy the animals which help them carry farm produce to the markets for sale.
The donkey owners spoke during a donkey vaccination exercise organised by the County Government and Africa Network for Animals Welfare (ANAW).
During the exercise, over 100 donkeys were given free nutritional supplements, health check-ups and treatment while their owners were advised on animal husbandry and how to work without beating them.
Dennis Bahati, a veterinarian, 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.
Bahati said the global demand for donkey skins and meat is driven by Chinese markets. Donkeys are stolen and smuggled out through the Kenya- Tanzania border and exported to China where the demand is high.
In China, donkey meat and skins are used to produce snacks, beauty products, sex stimulants, anti-ageing products and traditional medicine known as ‘ejiao’ believed to stop aging and boost libido.
The government in February 2020, however slapped an embargo on slaughter of donkeys and exportation of their products before revoking licenses of four existing slaughterhouses.
Agriculture and Livestock CS Peter Munya, said the ban was enforced against a backdrop of dwindling donkey numbers occasioned by rampant theft of the beast of burden in a well-orchestrated syndicate, which benefited slaughterhouse owners at the expense of citizens.
By Rop Janet