The Kenyan government announced an unprecedented ban of donkeys in a new directive aimed at curbing theft of the animals.
The ban on the slaughter of donkeys has been effected as a stop-gap measure following the rise in the theft of the animals. Concerns turned into a rage over the unprecedented rise in donkey hides, adversely affecting rural communities that depend on them as a source of livelihood. The announcement was made by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.
In areas where the donkeys play a key role in the rural or semi-urban economies, the rampant trade over their hides has disrupted the area economy. Peter Munya, the Cabinet secretary in the Agriculture ministry released a statement pointing out the significance of the donkeys to farmers who rely on them for transportation, domestic work, and milk.
Donkey hides are big business globally, fueled by their demand in China. It is believed the hide contains medicinal properties according to a 2019 report by the UK-based non-profit, The Donkey Sanctuary.
All donkey abattoirs have been given two months to switch their slaughterhouses from donkey meat to cow, goat, sheep and chicken alternatives. Failure to meet the directive will be met with steep penalties that includes the revocation of their operating licenses.
The idea behind the introduction of this policy in 2016 was to raise the commercial value of the animals and create jobs. Reports from donkey advocacy groups such as The Brooke East Africa reveal a slaughter of over 300,000 donkeys since the policy came into effect.
Last year, a protest was organized by donkey owners to demand a countrywide ban and closure of the donkey abattoirs citing massive theft of their animals. A donkey monitoring group, The drone sanctuary, released a report detailing how 3 million donkey hides were imported into China since 2016 to create the drug ejiao.