The Kenyan government has announced a ban on the slaughter of donkeys in the country, after being presented with a petition by donkey owners who marched to the Cabinet Secretary’s office.
The Minister of Agriculture gave a directive to shut down all four donkey abattoirs in the country within the next month. Up to 1000 donkeys a day were thought to be slaughtered each day until now.
Brooke Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, which works closely with these donkey owners and has been campaigning for a ban on the trade of donkey skin, welcomed the announcement on Monday, February 24. Brooke declared the situation a crisis in 2019, when research predicted donkeys in Kenya could be wiped out in just a few years if no action was taken.
The unprecedented and unsustainable demand for Donkey skins is being driven by rapid growth in the popularity of a traditional Chinese medicine, Ejiao. Plummeting donkey numbers in China led Ejiao manufacturers to source donkeys from Africa, and Kenya became a hub for the trade. As Kenyan Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Hon. Peter Munya said as he announced the ban, it has led to “Stealing of donkeys, wanton and unmitigated slaughter of donkeys, which has led to drastic reduction in the donkey population.” This has left communities unable to earn a basic living and provide for their families.
“If this trend continued the donkeys will be decimated and the economy will be affected in a huge way,” Munya said. “We want to stop that criminality and brutality to restore donkey to its rightful place in our society that of supporting livelihoods and crucial in providing transport”
Brooke’s Chief executive Petra Ingram said the ban was tremendous news after the charity’s months of supporting donkey owners and campaigning against the trade. “This is also an important and vital step towards giving this issue the attention it deserves, and extending a ban across Africa and beyond.”
Brooke East Africa, based in Nairobi and an affiliate of Brooke in the UK, has been pivotal in this breakthrough, working with local organisations on the ground in Kenya to bring together thousands of donkey owners, empowering them to take action. They also held a conference in November 2019 in Nairobi to highlight their plight.
Brooke East Africa’s chief executive Fred Ochieng said the result was testament to the tenacity of the Brooke team and the teams it works with at a grassroots level.
However, the trade in donkey skins has been banned in other countries which can lead to illegal slaughter and transport, so Ochieng remained pragmatic: “We have won the battle but the war on this extremely harmful trade is not over. We look forward to working with the government to enforce the laws, and continue to protect vulnerable people and their animals.”
The donkey skin trade is a worldwide issue and one that Brooke is working to ban, step by step. It also wants so see enforcement of current bans, and a crackdown on cross-border trade. It recently set out its plan in a new policy brief.