Donkeys are facing imminent extinction in the next five years, according to an alarming report by Nairobi-based, Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW). It highlights the slaughter of donkeys on a daily basis, and states that by 2023, Kenya may not have a single donkey left.
ANAW says that the rise of slaughterhouses is threatening to wipe out the species, reporting that between 2016 and 2018, as many as 600,000 pieces of donkey skin and 400 tonnes of donkey meat were exported to Vietnam and China.
In 2016, Kenya had opened the doors of four commercial donkey abattoirs namely Goldox Kenya Limited in Mogotio, Baringo County, Star Brilliant Abattoir at Maraigushu in Naivasha, Silzha Ltd at Nakwaalele in Turkana, and Fuhai Machakos Trading Company Ltd.
Initial estimates indicate that 410 donkeys were being killed every weekday, and part of the problem was the classification of donkeys and horses as food animals, seven years ago. This had led to the establishment of more slaughterhouses to meet the growing demand from international markets.
The export of donkey products is driven mainly by a rising demand from China, where the skin is used to make “health foods” and traditional medicine. The Chinese believe that the skin supplements lost blood, delays aging and treats the side-effects of chemotherapy. They also believe that it reverses infertility and prevents miscarriage.
Animal welfare organisation, Network for Animals (NFA) said these unfounded ancient beliefs may mean the end of the donkey population in Kenya if nothing is done about it urgently.
“We urgently call on the Kenyan government to withdraw the abattoirs’ licences until proper procedures are established to guarantee the overall welfare of the animals,” said NFA’s chief campaigner, David Barritt.
“We are urging that any form of trading in donkey meat and skin be outlawed to protect the species and to end this evil slaughter. NFA is committed to saving as many lives as possible, even that of the humble donkey.”