Is Kenya ready for the trade in donkeys? Kenya, like other African countries was not well prepared for the Chinese appetite for donkey meat and skin and is now facing the consequences. Donkey theft is on the rise due to the increasing demand which has raised the market price for donkeys. Consequently animal rights activists are having a hard time reinforcing donkey welfare issues. Countries such as Nigeria and Burkina Faso banned the trade in donkeys as soon as they realized that the ever increasing demand was more than they could supply.
Ejiao, a Chinese traditional medicine believed to restore youth, boost stamina and treat various ailments is the genesis of our donkeys suffering here in Kenya. It all started with the launching of the Donkey slaughterhouse, which has now been closed indefinitely due to acts of animal cruelty, thanks to the Donkey Sanctuary and Brooke East Africa impromptu visit and sharing a viral video which showed the inhumane treatment of these animals. Ejiao, which is extracted from donkey skin is a gellatinious substance that despite having many medicinal properties has no scientific evidence to support its use.
It’s important to note that the gestation period of donkeys is about 360 days which is roughly a year. Donkeys, just like horses cannot have twins carried to term because of the hormonal involvement which often leads to abortions. Therefore a donkey only gives birth to one foal per year. This factor alone shows that donkey breeding needs patience and the country cannot run the slaughterhouse without revisiting measures to sustain this demand. The Chinese opted for the African market because even their breeders could not meat the high demand. So then I ask, what is the way forward to save our donkeys?
The key stakeholders need to sit down and assess the current situation inorder to put an end to this madness. In my opinion, donkey breeding should have been established way before the slaughter house was launched. The loop in the entire operation was by-passed perhaps because at the time the opportunity was glittering.
- Donkeys can live for over 50 years
- Donkeys are very strong and intelligent
- A donkey is much stronger than a horse of the same size.
- Donkeys have an incredible memory – they can recognise areas and other donkeys they were with up to 25 years ago. (am sure you’re memory is not as good)
- In the desert, a donkey is able to hear the call of another donkey 60 miles away, they have far larger ears than horses. Their large ears also help keep them cool
- The donkey was associated with the Syrian God of Wine, Dionysius.
- These animals enjoy rolling on ground. This is in fact their best pastime.