Kenya Donkey Keepers Protect Animals from Slaughter for Medicine

Kenya Donkey Keepers Protect Animals from Slaughter for Medicine

Kenya Donkey Keepers Protect Animals from Slaughter for Medicine

In large parts of Africa, including Kenya, the humble donkey has been under threat from poaching for allegedly magic potions. To discourage thieves, Kenya last year banned donkey slaughterhouses and this month is holding its first donkey festival to encourage their protection.

In Magadi, Kenya, donkey keepers are celebrating their animals at a special festival. The donkey, they say, is the workhorse of their community. Pilores Maberi, a resident of Magadi, has been keeping donkeys for a year now.

“A donkey is the Masai people’s car. We carry heavy loads in Magadi. We go to sell feed for our children, carry water. The donkey has a lot of work at home,” she said.

Kenya Donkey Keepers Protect Animals from Slaughter for Medicine

FIEL – A man rides his donkey cart with jerrycans of fresh water in Athi River, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, April 19, 2018.

Thousands of donkeys, many of them stolen, were slaughtered here to be used in allegedly magic potions sold in China, until the Kenyan government banned donkey abattoirs in February of last year.

Residents like Pilores say they can now keep their donkeys without fear.

“I see we are OK. They are not stealing our donkeys. Those who don’t have, we buy for them, we tell people to buy donkeys because there is no more slaughtering,” she said.

The chairman of the Donkey Owners Association in Magadi, Jackson Kupere, said the number of donkeys is climbing again after so many were lost to the slaughterhouses.

“Donkeys were finished, but they stopped the selling of donkeys for slaughter. Now the donkeys are increasing. If you do the math, the donkeys were just about 100 to 200 in this whole community but now they have increased to about 1,000, they have increased a lot,” he said.

Leaders in this community are teaching residents how to protect their donkeys from thieves. Daniel Lonkoi is the Magadi area senior chief.

“We are meeting with stakeholders — chiefs, village elders and other opinion leaders — so that we as a community, we avoid selling and even slaughtering donkeys,” he said.

Animal welfare organizations in Africa are partnering with donkey keepers on how to be vigilant against donkey abductions. Josiah Ojwang, the program coordinator for Africa Network for Animal Welfare, tells us how.

“We are working with them so that they are able to form scouts, we call them community scouts, so that they are able to track, keep monitoring donkey movement on a daily basis and also report incidents of donkey theft to the authorities. So it’s a program known as community capacity building for resilience on donkey welfare,” he said.

The donkey population in Kenya dropped from 1.8 million to 1.6 million according to a survey by the Kenya agriculture and livestock research organization in 2019.

With protection measures in place, donkey keepers hope to restore the animal’s numbers soon.

Source: VOA News

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