Donkeys are expected to be extinct in Kenya by 2023 as the animals are being increasingly slaughtered on mass to sell their skins in China.
Experts from the Africa Network for Animal Welfare have warned that population numbers are in sharp decline with 600,000 remaining in the country in 2019 – down from 1.8 million in 2009.
The group’s executive director Josphat Ngonyo warned that if the Chinese donkey skin trade continues on its current trend, Kenyan donkeys are likely to be extinct in just three years.
Donkeys in Kenya are traditionally used as draught animals for basic income families, but as demand for their skin increases the Chinese trade has become increasingly attractive for families wishing to cash in and send the animals to the slaughterhouse.
Ngonyo was addressing journalists in Tanzania when he explained that donkey skins are used to make traditional Chinese medicine.
Donkey farmers are also reporting high levels of cross-border theft of the animals to supply the Chinese market.
Scrutiny of donkey slaughterhouses in Kenya has been intensifying and public opinion shifting against barbaric practices, but the ANAW boss said this had not suppressed a drastic increase in killing of the animals over the past decade.
The major donkey slaughterhouses kill up to a combined 1260 animals every single day in Kenya, the ANAW reported.
Activists say the incredibly high slaughter figures and loose regulation allows for horrendous abuse of donkeys across the country.
Donkey skin is now more expensive in Kenya than a live donkey, and animals are sourced from Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Northern Uganda to be killed in the country’s slaughterhouses.
The ANAW warned that much of the importing is through unofficial means and routes, again making way for poor treatment of donkeys.
What can be done to protect donkeys who are killed for the Chinese market? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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