Will you stand against the needless slaughter of working donkeys in Kenya?
Hundreds of thousands of donkeys are slaughtered and exported from Africa annually, causing donkey numbers across the continent to decimate. They are driven by demand from China, as hides are boiled to produce ‘ejiao’, a gelatin used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Donkeys are often stolen from families who depend on them for their livelihoods – families often already struggling and living below the poverty line.
“My entire family’s needs and my needs depend on my donkey. From my donkey I am able to get a salary, I pay rent and even school fees.”
Kenya is at the epicentre of the donkey crisis. Up to 1,000 donkeys in the country are killed daily for their skins, and more are killed illegally, often horrifically butchered in the bush or on the street. Around 60 donkeys a week were stolen from owners across Kenya in 2017. Thought to be in part due to Brooke East Africa’s efforts, this reduced to just over 20 a week in 2018, but it’s feared this will rise again with the ongoing increasing demand. The theft pushes families into poverty as their main source of income is taken.
Four legal slaughterhouses are currently running in Kenya. The country’s newest one is located near the Ethiopian border, ultimately promoting the smuggling of donkeys into Kenya. Across country borders, the donkey skin trade carries a major risk to welfare and health, as seen in April 2019, when Brooke witnessed an outbreak of equine flu in West Africa thought to be linked to the trade, killing over 60,000 donkeys in Niger.
Stephen Kimiri of Narok, Kenya delivers water to local homes and businesses with his donkeys.
“The donkey is my boss; I depend on it for everything”, Stephen told the Brooke.
One evening, Stephen and his animals had their world turned upside down. His donkey was one of a number of donkeys stolen in Narok that night.
As well as mourning his donkey, Stephen was also worried about the financial ramifications of losing it so suddenly.
“I felt my life was over without that one donkey because for sure you cannot rely on one to do everything”, Stephen said.
“The donkey hide trade is decimating the population of donkeys in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. The figures are now unsustainable. We’ve reached a crisis point. This is a global crisis.”
We have been working to eradicate the donkey skin trade crisis in Kenya through various initiatives, including:
- Working on the frontline with donkey-owning communities confronting the problem.
- Funding community-led initiatives to protect donkeys.
- Adding resources on the ground to expand lobbying and community engagement.
- Mobilising to alert local governments.
- Assisting partners and communities to gather evidence to make their case to government.
- Collaborating with wildlife conservation organisations to learn from their experiences. We already work closely with other animal welfare organisations through the International Coalition for Working Equids.
- Alerted the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to get the issue on the worldwide agenda.
Outside of Kenya, we have also been raising awareness locally, within communities, and on a national advocacy level on how the trade is affecting communities using the power of the media. We are also currently working with a journalist on a documentary in Africa.
We hope through these local, national and international initiatives we can increase communities’ levels of resilience for the protection of their animals, and alter government policies to make all trade of donkey hides illegal.