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Commercial Donkey Slaughter for Skins and Meat is Destroying the Livelihoods of Donkey Dependent Communities in Kenya

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Safeguard the Ban on Donkey Slaughter

The Association of Donkey Owners in Kenya (ADOK) in partnership with the Alliance for Donkey Welfare Organizations in Kenya(ADWOK) would like to bring to the attention of the National Government of Kenya, County Governments and Non Governmental Organizations working to improve communities livelihoods, private institutions, general public and other stakeholders; that commercial donkey slaughter for skins and meat for export has had serious negative effects to the livelihoods of donkey dependent communities in Kenya.

Donkey was gazetted as food by the Government in the year 1999 with the aim of curbing bush slaughter and improving food safety. However, increase in global demand for donkey has led to the establishment of donkey slaughter houses in the country.

Between 2016 & 2018, four export slaughter houses were licenced in the following counties; Baringo, Nakuru, Turkana and Machakos county.

Research was conducted by Kenya Agricultural Reasearch Organization (KALRO) in the year 2019 on the status of Donkey slaughter in Kenya and its implication on Community livelihoods. The research showed that;

  • A total of 301,977 donkeys were slaughtered in 3 years (2016-2018) by the four slaughter houses. Of those slaughtered, 38% were female and 10% of them were pregnant. the total number of donkeys slaughtered in the four years was equivalent to 15.4% of the donkey population reported in 2016 by the government.
  • The annual mean number of donkeys slaughtered comprised of 5.1% of the donkey population slaughtered annually based on the country’s donkey population of 1,965,632 reported by the ministry of Agriculture in the year 2016.

This is a devastating state of affairs for donkey owning communities mainly because the trade was significantly reducing Kenya’s donkey population and also catalyzed theft and bush slaughter of donkeys and destroyed livelihoods in Kenya’s donkey owning communities.

When donkeys are hired or used commercially, their owners earn an income of 300-700 daily, averaging to 11,390 Shillings daily. When a donkey is lost from a donkey dependent household through theft, or coerced sale for slaughter, household income is lost. Vulnerable grouos such as women, children, the elderly and the disabled are particularly most affected.

Due to declining numbers, donkey breeding has been suggested as a potential solution to continue supplying donkeys for commercial slaughter and prevent further decline in donkey population. However, breeding of donkeys has been tried even in countries that have adequate technology like China and failed. Breeding of donkeys is notoriously challenging.

ADWOK and ADOK hereby conclude that;

  • There has neen significant negative effects on the livelihoods of donkey owning communities in Kenya warranted by the unsustainable donkey welfare unfriendly, environmentally degrading business of commercial slaughter of donkeys.
  • Earlier this year, the Kenyan Government revoked the export licences of the four donkey slaughter houses, meaning a ban on commercial slaughter for donkeys in Kenya. The government of Kenya should safeguard the livelihoods of the poor donkey owning communities by maintaining the ban on commercial slaughter of donkeys.
  • In any case, if new donkey farming systems are developed in Kenya, as it has been proposed by some enterpreneurs, the government must ensure that these systems are sustainable, have satisfactory standards in relation to biosecurity, donkey welfare and environmental impacts as stipulated in the legistlation.
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