The government has banned the slaughter of donkeys for the export market.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the ban follows a petition by donkey owners, who complained that their donkeys have become targets for thieves.
Mr Munya also issued a one-month notice for donkey slaughterhouses to change their nature of business.
“We reached a decision that the trade in donkey meat was a bad idea,” Munya said.
“I have declared a ban following petitions from donkey owners.” Munya added that the slaughter was affecting donkey populations and dealing a blow to the economies of arid and semi-arid areas.
“We cannot satisfy the huge demand for donkey meat in China and the trade has already made a dent in the economy,” the CS said.
He noted that following the ban, the ministry will incorporate researchers to come up with techniques of boosting donkey populations.
Ministry of Agriculture data has estimated donkey populations to be lower than one million. The ban follows an increase in donkey theft cases, with Kenya being flagged as a regional hotspot for trading in smuggled donkeys.
Last December, an international donkey conference was held in Nairobi where donkey welfare advocacy groups including Brooke and Donkey Sanctuary termed the trade a crisis.
Kenya and Nigeria have recently been the largest exporters of donkey products to countries such as China.
China has an annual demand of 4.8 million donkey skins. The skins are used for the manufacture of ejiao, a Chinese traditional medicine.
Nigeria has also been discussing a Bill to ban the trade. Ethiopia and Sudan have alleged that their stolen donkeys have ended up in Kenya
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