By Leah Gitau
It is very difficult for a donkey to win a race if they are always expected to carry elephants on their backs. A donkey is a highly neglected animal across Kenya. People do not recognize the importance of taking care of a donkey’s welfare and what most don’t realize is that the animal is a great contributor to Kenya’s agricultural economy.
Donkeys are often viewed as working tools that do all manners of work, from farming to transport. From an animal welfare point of view, no animal should be overworked and if directed to perform various tasks, they should be allowed to rest because they are sentient and feel worn out after a long day’s work. In Kenya, these animals are widely used in farming and transport. They are used to pull large carts with heavy goods or forced to carry goods directly on their backs. In farming, they are used to till large acres of land without any feeds or watering over the long periods they are used for these activities. For instance, in the semi-arid areas, donkeys are used to transport jerry cans of water on their backs in the scorching sun, with several whips by their owners when they are unable to cooperate due to the fatigue they experience.
Effects of inhumane handling of donkeys
When donkeys are mishandled, it leads to problems such as; pain and injury, discomfort in their body parts, hunger and thirst, lameness, and malnutrition as a long-term effect.
According to a research conducted by the Heshimu Punda activists in 2009, the number of donkeys in Kenya stands at 1, 832, 519 and this number will continue to decrease if donkeys are not well taken care of. Donkey owners do not take the welfare of donkeys with the seriousness that it deserves compared to other domesticated animals that give us food such as meat, milk and eggs. They tend to assume that since they are not kept for food, we should not give back to them like other animals, which is a wrong perspective.