Kenya has announced that it will ban the commercial slaughter of donkeys because of its shrinking donkey population. Abattoirs have been given a month to stop the slaughter or be shut down. Kenya has four abattoirs with slaughter licences and it is estimated that around 1,000 donkeys are killed each day.
Agriculture Minister Peter Munya said the country’s decision in 2012 to legalize the trade of donkey meat and hide was a mistake and not well thought out. Their initial decision was due to the growing demand in China for meat and skin. Donkey skin is popular in China because when they are boiled, a gelatine is produced and this gelatine is considered to be an essential ingredient in Chinese traditional medicines.
A decade ago, Kenya was home to some 1.8 million donkeys, and today there are just 600,000 left in the country. The announcement of the ban comes on the back of increased backlash from animal welfare organizations including Network for Animals (NFA) and the Kenyan SPCA.
David Barritt, executive director for NFA welcomed the move, saying it was a much-needed victory.
“The insatiable Chinese demand for donkey skins will wipe donkeys out throughout Africa if the trade is allowed to continue,” said Barritt.
“NFA has been campaigning for an end to the trade because of its cruelty and the devastating effect it is having on rural populations who use donkeys for transport and water deliveries.”
“Donkey exports to China have been banned in Botswana, Niger, Tanzania, Burkino Faso, Senegal, Mali, and Uganda, but it is rife legally and illegally in many other African countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Sudan.”
“We hope that other governments take note of the Kenyan decision and outlaw the trade. NFA will certainly keep up the pressure because if we do not, the traders will simply go elsewhere in Africa. We have to work to have an Africa-wide ban if we are to save these creatures.”
According to government estimates, in 1990, China had a donkey population of 11 million. Today they have just three million left