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Report: Nairobians eating donkey, game meat

By Kibiwott Korros | April 16th 2015

Nairobi, Kenya: If you live in Nairobi, the choicest cuts from your favourite butcher might not be the beef you ordered.

Instead, unscrupulous butchers are likely selling you donkey or game meat, which exposes you to the risk of contracting diseases like anthrax.

An investigation by the Nairobi County Assembly Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources, following visits to four city abattoirs, suggests the scale of the illicit trade could be worse.

In the course of their inquiries, the committee visited Njiru, Kiamaiko, Farmers Choice abattoirs, and Burma Market.

Burma Market for instance, supplies up to 50 per cent of meat consumed in Nairobi City, but the committee found out that most of the meat sold here originate from unlicensed sources.

“The facility has only four veterinary officers despite the heavy work load of meat inspection.

“This raises questions whether all the meat consumed by Nairobi residents is inspected,” said the report.

“The animals (meat) are usually transported from outside the county, particularly Kiambu and Kajiado counties. With an overwhelmed veterinary department, they are rarely inspected,” observed the report, which recommends a ban on meat deliveries by boda boda riders.

The bikes are suspected to carry meat from suspicious sources, rather than the licensed abattoirs that supply popular markets

The report says the source of animals that are slaughtered in the abattoirs has been of concern to city residents.

“It has been alleged that unhealthy animals have been slaughtered and sold to residents for consumption. In addition, either donkey and game meat has found its way in this abattoirs, from which it has been sold to unsuspecting residents,” the report reads in part.


Meat handlers, who include off-loaders, the report says do not maintain proper hygiene, and the Committee on Agriculture doubts whether they are medically fit to handle meat.

The markets are owned by the county government, whose  premises are rented out to meat traders.

The report recommends an overhaul of Burma Market.

“The county government should move with speed and ensure the market meets food safety standards, by providing modern meat storage facilities, and posting more meat inspection officers.

“This should apply across all other meat markets, including private butcheries,” says the report.

On several occasions, the report says, donkey and zebra meat believed to be destined to Nairobi has been nabbed by security officers, especially on Mombasa Road and Nairobi-Naivasha highway. Some of the owners confessed to trading in donkey and game meat.

The meat is delivered by taxis and boda bodas at night by cartels with links in Naivasha, Narok and Kajiado where the meat is sourced.

Because Zebra and donkey meat easily pass as beef while gazelle’s as goat meat, the culprits always conduct their trade undetected.

Two months ago, police officers nabbed three suspects near Mithuri estate along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway with three slaughtered cattle and a carcass of a donkey.

The suspects admitted to the trade, and explained that there was a ready market in Nairobi’s Burma market.

“Burma is a popular ‘nyama choma’ joint, a favourite delicacy for several Nairobians, especially during the weekend.

“We are contracted to do this business by some traders in Naivasha and Nairobi. This is not the first time we are doing this,” confessed one of the suspects.

According to the committee report, most of the abattoirs in the city are in deplorable state, while most of the meat is never inspected.

Currently, there are nine privately owned slaughterhouses in the city, but under control of the county government through the Department of Agriculture, Livestock Development and Fisheries.

In Kiamaiko for example, the team established that school going children were allowed to collect blood and pieces of meat from the floors of the abattoir.


And in the slaughtering area, the carcasses were being washed on the floor without regard to hygiene.

The report noted that some of the carcasses had a dark colour, implying that the animals might have either been slaughtered when already dead, or they were slaughtered elsewhere and transported to the abattoirs.

There were neither veterinary doctors nor their offices at the abattoir, indicating that animals slaughtered may not have been inspected.

Security and Kenya Wildlife Service Deputy Director Peter Kimani says trade in bush meat has seen poaching skyrocket in wildlife conservation areas near Nairobi, Nakuru and Kajiado.

He adds that zebras are the most targeted, as they are widely available and graze in herds. Kimani singles out Naivasha, Narok, Kajiado and Ruma in South Nyanza as notorious hubs, where the vice thrives.

In Tana River region, he says, buffaloes, hippos and crocodiles are highly targeted for commercial purposes, including export purposes.

“We have particularly been raiding meat stalls in Naivasha in partnership with health officers and arrested so many people selling bush meat,” said Mr Kimani.

He says suspects lay snares, especially in Narok, where 100kg of bush meat were nabbed last year.

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