Illegal Donkey Skin Trade Persists in Kenya Despite Government Ban

MOYALE – The persistent illegal trade of donkey skins, despite a government-imposed prohibition, is raising concerns in Kenya, particularly in Taita Taveta County.

According to Kenya News Agency, a workshop organized by the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) in collaboration with Germany’s Weltierschutzgesellschaft (WTG) in Moyale town, approximately 10,000 donkey skins were exported to China from Kenya last year, flouting the existing ban.

Dr. Dennis Bahati of ANAW highlighted the rampant bush slaughter of donkeys, notably in areas like Kajiado, Nakuru, Kiambu, and Naivasha, driven by the demand for donkey hides in China for the production of ejiao. Despite the government’s revocation of export licenses for donkey abattoirs, Dr. Bahati stressed the urgency of establishing stricter laws and policies, echoing a resolution from the African Union Assembly to halt the inhumane donkey skin trade continent-wide.

The repercussions of this illicit trade extend beyond animal welfare, posing severe health hazards as unregulated donkey meat potentially enters the food supply chain. Kenya’s donkey population has alarmingly declined from 1.8 million in 2009 to just over half a million, threatening not only the species’ survival but also the livelihoods dependent on these animals, particularly in pastoralist communities.

Ms. Hawo Huka Gullied, representing a local donkey welfare association, emphasized the integral role donkeys play in daily tasks such as water and firewood transportation, especially in regions with limited conventional transport options. The burgeoning black market for donkey skins undermines these communities’ resilience and economic stability.

Authorities, including Moyale sub-county veterinary officer Hassan Nura, have reported a surge in donkey smuggling and illegal slaughtering activities, particularly since the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions. Legal loopholes currently allow for the unfettered movement and slaughter of donkeys, necessitating immediate legislative intervention to prevent further exploitation and ensure public health safety.

The call to action extends to the media, urged to raise awareness and support efforts to combat this clandestine trade, reinforcing the need for comprehensive legal reforms to protect both animal welfare and community livelihoods in Kenya.

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