Through the Meat Control (Amendment) Act 2012, donkey meat was legalised in Kenya. Goldox, the first ever donkey abattoir in Kenya, was set up in Mogotio, Baringo County, in 2016. Today, there are four licenced donkey abattoirs in the country.
Not surprisingly, at least 98 per cent of donkey meat sourced locally is for export to China, not for local consumption.
Farmers opposed to the donkey meat trade have raised genuine concerns that cannot be swept under the carpet, even as the government seeks to increase the volume of trade with China.
Worried farmers have demanded the closure of donkey abattoirs until pertinent issues are addressed.
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Key among the farmers’ concerns is the increase in donkey thefts, and with it, the loss of revenue from transport business where donkeys are the principal means due to bad roads. Fear has been expressed that by 2023, donkey populations will have been depleted.
From 1.8 million donkeys in 2009, it is estimated that only 900,000 remain today. The four abattoirs slaughter more than 1,000 donkeys daily.
Just like elephants and rhinos, donkeys must be protected through proper legislation. Seemingly, the donkey meat and skins market is not well regulated, which disadvantages farmers.
Lack of stringent controls led to complaints against Goldox in 2017 after it was noted that the abattoir posed serious health risks by dumping waste in the open.
Curbing donkey thefts and ensuring a balance between demand and supply is of utmost importance.
A slaughter ban should be considered if, indeed, there is a veritable risk of decimating the animals’ numbers.