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Sale of animal parts a recipe for another pandemic, Vets warn

Roots Party presidential candidate George Wajackoyah at KICC during the launch of his manifesto. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The Union of Veterinary Practitioners of Kenya has condemned the Roots Party Presidential candidate George Wajackoya’s statement that they said borders animal rights abuse.

Speaking on Thursday, June 30, during the launch of his manifesto dubbed ten steps to freedom, Wajackoya pushed for the export of animal parts to raise money.

He said dogs, snakes, and hyenas' body parts have huge value, that when sold can raise a lot of money to plug the country's revenue deficits.

According to Wajackoya, testicles from hyenas as well as their meat have the potential to boost the economy.

"1,000 male hyenas have 2,000 testicles. I hear the testicles are medicine to the Chinese. The testicles can fetch more money than even Ganja. One testicle is almost Sh6 million. So, we shall export hyena testicles, dog meat, and hyenas," he said.

The lawyer-cum-politician further emphasised the exportation of dog meat to China, as he claims dogs can be a form of medicine, a contrast to The World Health Organization (WHO).

 ‘‘We will export dog meat! A kilogram of dog meat costs six times more than the price of a kilogram of goat meat. Kenya exports beef, goat, and lamb to the Middle East. For instance, each Kg of goat costs an average of Sh400…but if we export dog meat we will earn Sh2, 400 per kilogram,’’ said Wajackoya.

But now, the Union’s secretary Dr Miheso Mulembani says that kind of talk on the sale of animal parts will cause harm to the endangered species.

‘‘The Union of Veterinary Practitioners of Kenya is perturbed at the level of political talk that is likely to cause harm to animals. Prof. Wajackoya’s assertion that it is possible for Kenyans to trade in wildlife products is quite worrying and impractical,’’ said Mulembani.

He noted that as a country signatory to world conventions it is its mandate to protect the survival of animal species.

‘‘Kenya is a treaty member of the Washington Convention also known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wildlife (CITES).”

CITES protects the survival of the species in the wild and regulates international trade in specimens of species of wildlife based on a system of permits and certificates issued under certain conditions,’’ he added.

Mulembani noted that Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, China, as a result of trade in wildlife products saying that Kenya should be prepared for a surge in zoonotic diseases such as Rabies, Brucellosis, Leptospirosis, Yersiniosis, Campylobacteriosis, Salmonellosis, Cryptosporidiosis and Giardiasis among others.

‘‘Trade in hyena testicles and snakes is disallowed and a threat to the existence of the wild species. Prof. Wajackoyah’s proposal to trade in snakes and Hyena testicles is a recipe for another pandemic owing to spillover of viruses, bacteria, and parasites from Hyenas and Snakes in the wild to human beings,’’ he said.

 He urged Wajackoya to consult with relevant professionals before making such statements.

In his remarks on Thursday, Wajackoyah said: "Dogs are medicine to us also. They are healing. But then we have excess dogs in Lubao market in Kakamega, where we have so many poor people. Where I come from, we have so many dogs. We shall export dog meat to China."

The rearing of snakes also dominated Wajackoyah's ten steps to freedom.

He claims that farmers of venomous snakes have the potential of making a total of Sh600, 000 in the event they sell a vial of anti-venom.

‘‘We will have rare snakes! If we did snake farming in Kenya, each venomous snake farmer would earn an average of Sh600, 000 per vial of anti-venom.

If we harvest Black mamba anti-venom, a Kenyan farmer will make $5,300 per vial,” the manifesto says.