With only two days remaining to PanAfrican Donkey Conference (PADCo), Veterinarians are calling upon the Government to investigate on the ongoing illegal donkey slaughter in some parts of the country.
Speaking during a press briefing, the Regional Director-Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys in East Africa Dr Raphael Kinoti said it was unclear how donkeys were being slaughtered and their skin exported even after it was banned by the government.
“We have heard voices from Turkana with communities saying their donkeys are disappearing; Lodwar communities are reporting that they are seeing motorbikes carrying donkey skin and selling to people whom they purport to be the former owners of the slaughter house meaning the illegal business is going on,” said Kinoti.
Kinoti questioned how the skins were being exported, asking the government to look in to the matter.
He noted on the positive side, donkey owners have come together to form an association in Kenya, finding ways to protect their donkeys, hoping that it will reduce the emergence of illegal business.
Kinoti said it was reported recently that in Lodwar of Turkana, the illegal business was still on.
He noted that Kenya began donkey slaughter in 2016, with the first slaughter house in Naivasha, others in Baringo, Turkana, and Kithyoko in Machakos.
The Veterinarian said it was so lucrative until communities started complaining that they were losing their donkeys to thieves at night. By 2018, he noted that Brooke and its partners were reporting an average of 50 cases of donkeys’ theft per day.
After research conducted by KALRO in 2019 showing that in every five donkeys slaughtered in Kenya, only one was born, government banned the trade, in 2020, closing all the four slaughter houses.
World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) in East Africa representative Dr Samuel Wakhusama said the upcoming conference perspective is to provide guidance on the standards that have been developed by WOAH regarding animal welfare.
“There are lots of concern about the animal welfare in the continent including the donkey. We want to provide leadership on how to address animal welfare standards which are Science based, usually developed through a transparent process,” said Wakhusama.
He said the goal of this year’s conference is to exchange knowledge on donkey welfare and the donkey skin trade, a platform for informed policy dialogues, mainstreaming the donkey in development, sensitization, and bringing Africa together with one voice and a consolidated position on donkey welfare issues.
Answering a question on animal welfare in Africa, Wakhusama said most of the countries are not applying the standards the way they should be compared to countries in Asia, grading Africa 3-4 in a scale of 1-10.
He said Ethiopia is the largest exporter adding that Kenya is also doing very well in terms of exporting to the Middle East. However, he said challenges related to diseases hinder their progression export business.
Present during the briefing, Africa Union-InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) Representative Dr Hiver Boussini said today 30 out of 55-member state have mainstreamed animal welfare in the national Veterinary legislation.
“Africa has at least 35 to 40 percent of animal resources and do export a lot to the middle East especially sheep, goat, cattle and camel,” said Boussini.
The Conference shall be held 1-2 December 2022, hosted by Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with the theme ‘Donkeys in Africa Now and in the Future’
The conference is organized by AU-IBAR in collaboration with African Regional Economic Communities (IGAD, EAC, ECCAS, ECOWAS, and SADC), with the support of WOAH, ILRI, KALRO and the Animal Welfare Organizations concerned with the care of Donkeys and horses in Africa.
By Catherine Muindi