Donkey farmers across the country have renewed the push to stop the slaughter of the animals through petitions to counties that host abattoirs.
The owners have petitioned Nakuru, Machakos, Baringo and Turkana county assemblies in countrywide protests that seek closure of all donkey abattoirs.
They have blamed the slaughterhouses in the four counties for the massive cases of donkey theft to satisfy the demand for the export market.
There is a huge demand for meat and hide in China. They say the beast of burden could soon be wiped out if uncontrolled slaughter is not dealt with.
“The slaughter is unregulated and that is why we are on the losing end as donkey owners who depend on these donkeys for transport services since we hire them out. We have decided to petition Nakuru County Assembly to close a donkey abattoir until the issues are resolved,” Joseph Thedu, a donkey owner from Nakuru County, said.
Mr. Thedu said the massive and unregulated slaughter to meet the huge market demand in China could soon leave the country without donkeys.
Thedu said although donkey trade had been legalised, farmers were not involved in public participation to ascertain whether current numbers would sustain the market demand.
“It is now that we are feeling the effect of this insatiable appetite. The donkey slaughterhouses are increasing capacity on daily because there is no regulation. This has on the other hand spiral cases of theft and stripped many of their livelihoods,” he said.
According to Isaack Laisa, donkey theft in Baringo can no longer be tamed.
“For the past two years, donkey owners in Baringo has been reporting numerous cases of theft, which have never been resolved. We have decided to petition county assemblies to evaluate the sustainability of this trade and more so close the Mogotio-based Goldox donkey slaughterhouse,” said Mr. Laisa.
Last week, donkey owners from Nakuru and Machakos petitioned county assemblies to close down abattoirs in Naivasha and Machakos.
In their petitions, the donkey owners noted that the increase in export trade was already dealing a blow to the local economy following the huge demand and the dwindling numbers. Poor reproduction rates of donkeys, they say, also outweigh the rate of slaughter, a concern that they note might wipe out donkeys by 2023.
“Influx of donkeys from across Kenya is a clear indication the local population of donkeys cannot satisfy the demand. It is only the traders, slaughterhouses and government who are reaping from the trade,” John Nduhiu, a donkey owner from Naivasha, said.
A report by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation and Brooke East Africa revealed that Kenya was slaughtering its donkeys at a rate higher than the national growth rate of 1.4 percent.