Kenya urged to abolish trade on donkey hides, skins
By Eston Murithi
The donkey hide trade is a crisis in Kenya, as it is in many African countries where the rural and peri-urban resource-poor communities rely on them mainly for transport purposes.
This trade is fueled by the high appetite for ejiao in China. As demand for ejiao in China soars by the day.
Chinese traders have turned to Africa in recent years to meet their demand for donkey skin from where ejiao is derived. Kenyan donkey owning communities have suffered greatly as a result of donkey hide trade, making them poorer than before.
The slaughter of donkeys in Kenya started in 2016, with four commercial slaughter houses exporting donkey meat and donkey skins from Kenya.
Within a period of three years from the year 2016, according to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) which is a government research organization, the slaughterhouses had exploited a total of 301,977 donkeys. This number represents 15% of the total national donkey population.
The trade left the country with a significantly reduced number of donkeys. The Government of Kenya temporarily stopped the commercial slaughter of donkeys in the year 2020 and this has given a relief to donkey owning communities, who experienced heavy losses as their donkeys were stolen and supplied to the ready market at the four commercial slaughterhouses.
It is good to note that every donkey that was slaughtered left a Kenyan family devoid of a silent helper, the donkey, and especially so, the women and children who heavily rely on donkeys for household transport, not to mention the thousands of youth who earn income from donkeys to support their families.
Given the decline in donkey population in Kenya, there is an urgent need for concerted stakeholder efforts to invest in owner sensitization and awareness to replenish donkey stock.
There is a need to continue promoting proper welfare and husbandry that is critical to reproduction.
There is a need to update some key legislations and laws to guard against cruelty, abuse and against donkey theft and high exploitative commercial slaughter of donkeys.
In this regard, there is urgent need to initiate a mechanism to ban totally the commercial slaughter of donkeys for the skin trade and to Revoke or Undeclared asses (donkeys) as “animals” to which the Meat Control Act applies and amend by removing asses in the list of declared animals in the Legal Notice 146 (Declaration of Animals) dated 26th August 1999.
Kenyans need their donkey
As a country we are not yet out of the woods on Donkey Hide trade. Some people in leadership still believe that it is a trade that can earn countries income. This has proven time and again to be false.
There is no single country in the world that has benefited from the sale of their donkeys for slaughter. The trade is so much skewed towards the trader that communities that keep donkeys as well as whole countries end up losing big time and being completely impoverished by the trade.
Eston Murithi, CEO - KENDAT