Kenya may not have a single donkey by 2023 if the current slaughter rate continues.
A new report by Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) says the rise of slaughterhouses threatens to wipe out the animal.
The study traces the problem to the classification of donkeys and horses as food animals seven years ago.
This led to the establishment of more slaughterhouses to meet the high demand from the local and international markets.
There are four donkey abattoirs in the country 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.
Animal warfare lobbies have urged the government to withdraw the abattoirs’ licences until measures are put in place to guarantee the welfare of the animals. The lobbies also want trade in donkey meat and skin halted until regulations are set up to protect the species.
The report is compiled by Mr Josiah Ojwang, Dr Dennis Bahati and Mr Sebastian Mwanza from ANAW and Mr Bernard Atsiaya of Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals.
“Most donkeys in Moyale come from Ethiopia through unofficial border entry points,” says the report.
Brooke East Africa in collaboration with Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation, the Network of Donkey Owners (Nado) and the Alliance of Donkey Welfare Organisations in Kenya have also called for a ban on the export of donkey skin.
They also want a crackdown on cross-border smuggling of donkeys. Brooke East Africa CEO Fred Ochieng’ said communities should work together to fight for the survival of donkeys.
Brooke is an international animal warfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of donkeys, horses and mules.
Nado chairman Robert Mutethia said donkeys should not be slaughtered. The export of donkey products is driven mainly by demand from China where the skin is used to make traditional medicine known as ejiao.
The Chinese believe that the skin supplements lost blood, delays ageing, increases libido and treats side effects of chemotherapy. They also believe that it reverses infertility, prevents miscarriage and menstrual irregularity.
It is estimated that 1,000 donkeys are slaughtered in the country daily. This has led to an increase in donkey theft.
ANAW veterinarian Calvin Onyango says 600,000 pieces of donkey skin and 400 tonnes of donkey meat were exported to Vietnam and China between 2016 and 2018.