Kenya lost about one million donkeys when four licensed slaughterhouses were in operation between 2016 and 2020 in the country.
Trade in donkeys for slaughter also sparked off a new crime – the rustling of donkeys- that left many who depend on donkeys for their livelihood deprived, the CEO of the Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agriculture Technologies (KENDAT), Eston Muriithi, has said.
Mr. Muriithi said that while Kenya had 2.1 million donkeys when the slaughterhouses opened in 2016, the number had declined to 1.1 million by 2020 when the government withdrew the licenses of the slaughterhouses located in Machakos, Naivasha, Marigat, and Turkana.
The CEO said that the rapid decline was because donkeys, unlike other animals bred for milk and meat are not able to reproduce rapidly and naturally hence regeneration could not keep up with consumption.
Mr Muriithi, who spoke in Embu Friday morning during a media briefing on the state of donkeys in the country said working donkeys especially were not able to reproduce naturally because they spend most of their energy on their masters’ work and staying alive.
He also pointed out that many donkey owners choose to rear same sex donkeys hence they do not find mates.
One million donkeys in 4 years
The CEO said donkeys played an important part in rural transport, either carrying goods by cart or by pack on their backs and were in most cases the only mode of transport where other forms of transport cannot be accessed.
He added that donkeys were especially crucial in arid and semi-arid lands where they are used during moving, to ferry water and firewood among many other tasks.
Calling for the humane treatment of donkeys, Mureithi said donkey owners need not be cruel to their animals saying it was very easy to train donkeys to obey commands without being beaten.
His organisation has been training donkey handlers on how to make their animals understand and obey commands.
Muriithi said that contrary to popular belief, donkeys fall ill just like any other animals and should receive good quality feed, regular veterinary care and mineral supplements just like any other livestock to be in optimum condition.
“It is ironic that some farmers use donkeys to carry fodder for their other livestock but neglect to give the donkey good food,” the CEO added.
He said treated properly, donkeys can give the owner a decent income, noting that donkeys have proven invaluable in areas such as the rice fields of Mwea where they are the main forms of transport.
The CEO said they are lobbying the Kenya National Assembly and the East African Legislative Assemblies to enact legislation on the management and utilisation of donkeys, saying they were the only animals without a development policy.
About the author
Journalist from the national newswire, the Kenya News Agency