Lewis Njoka @LewisMjoka
An agricultural research agency has raised concern over inconsistency in the reported number of donkeys slaughtered in the country to meet soaring export demands.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock and Research Organisation (Karlo) said there is an unexplained discrepancy between what licenced donkey abattoirs report as meat exported and figures of the same recorded by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
The agency speculates that the discrepancy could be a result of the four licenced abattoirs under-reporting the number of donkeys slaughtered, receiving donkey meat for export from elsewhere, or there exists an additional donkey meat exporter other than the four licenced ones.
Records from the four abattoirs, Goldox Kenya Ltd., Fuhai Slaughterhouse, Silzha and Star Brilliant, show that 301,977 donkeys were slaughtered for export between 2016 and 2018. This is 21,030 donkeys fewer than was reported by KNBS for the same period.
A report by Karlo, commissioned by Brooke International, Kenya, says it makes more economic sense to earn from a living donkey than to slaughter donkeys for hides and meat export.
Speaking during the unveiling of the report findings in Nairobi, Monica Michomo, the director at Karlo’s Veterinary Sciences Research Institute, warned that the country would deplete its entire donkey population by 2023 if the current slaughter trends continue.
She said the mean rate of donkeys slaughtered per year is 5.1 per cent between 2016 and 2018 against a reproduction rate of 1.04 per cent recorded between 2009 and 2016.
“This means that if no action is taken, donkey population may fall below effective reproductive numbers in the near future, thus becoming functionally extinct as a species by 2023,” said Michomo.
Brooke, an international animal welfare charity is calling for a ban on the export of donkey skins and associated products.
It also wants a crackdown on cross-border smuggling of donkeys into Kenya for skinning saying its promoting insecurity threatening livelihoods and communities.
The report revealed that between 2016 and 2018, the country lost about Sh26 billion by slaughtering donkeys for skin and meat destined for export as opposed to utilising the live animals, for instance, to carry on transportation.
Over the three years covered by the study, the sector earned Sh 1.8 billion, which is 15 times lower compared to Sh28.3 billion it would have earned from living donkeys.