Monday, 8 May 2017

AFRICA: Suffering Donkeys Of Africa Being Hunted For Export To China For Chinese Traditional Medicine

The rapidly evolving relationship between China and Africa has attractive benefits to investors. However, there are devastating unintended consequences. Consideration must be given to the needs of poor people and their essential livestock.

Irrespective of whether or not people agree with the use of donkey products, it is vital that the welfare of donkeys involved is properly addressed. International Brooke teams are working together and collaborating with governments and other stakeholders to tackle this issue.

Petra Ingram, Chief Executive of Brooke said:

“The effect we’re seeing on the African donkey population is proving even greater than we originally feared. Alarming reports have been coming in from Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa, and it’s clear that it is affecting the people who rely on donkeys to support their livelihoods.

“The suffering taking place is stark, and it is unacceptable. We are against all these illegal activities, and are taking steps to do everything in our power to prevent it. We have already funded a study looking at new slaughterhouses in Kenya, and are waiting for the results. This will help us to better understand the issue.

“Brooke strongly believes that the lifetime value of donkeys in their contribution to community livelihoods is worth more than being sold for their meat or hides. In taking away someone’s donkey, it can mean taking away their means of making a living, potentially for a dangerously long time.

Brooke is working on a country by country basis, with national governments and donkey owning communities as they struggle to protect the welfare of donkeys and people’s livelihoods in the face of this growing challenge.

We have funded a study carried out by an organisation called GardenVet in Kenya. They have documented the impact of the donkey trade and slaughter process on donkey welfare in Kenya and to identify areas that need improvement to conform to donkey welfare best practices. The full results are expected soon, and will help us decide on what the next steps should be.

On 29 March, Brooke East Africa organised a national workshop and talks in Kenya to deliberate on donkey slaughter, its impact to animals and communities, and the best way of tackling the challenges.

Over 60 delegates attended, and they presented research on the issues. The team secured commitments from the government, other animal welfare organisations and community members on what can be done to minimise the negative impacts of the trade.

On Wednesday, 26 April, Samuel Theuri, Advocacy Officer from Brooke East Africa presented at The Kenya Veterinary Association’s (KVA) annual conference, this year celebrating 50 years of Veterinary Contribution to Sustainable Livelihoods and growth in developing economies.

This conference brings together animal health professionals to discuss the latest news and research.

One of the big subjects at the conference was the issue of donkey skin export, and the increase in theft of donkeys for their hides.

Samuel reported that Brooke East Africa and partners have found that almost 1000 donkeys have been stolen across Kenya between December 2016 and April 2017, and it’s likely that the slaughter methods used are extremely distressing for the donkeys and not welfare friendly.

As well as the obvious impact on the donkeys, this is also leaving many owners suddenly without the animal they need most for earning a living. A donkey helps an owner earn the equivalent of £4-£10, and it’s estimated that donkeys provide the equivalent of £3.7m in contribution to the economy.

Samuel also explained that because of the demand, donkeys have doubled in price, from 7,000 Kenyan Shillings in 2014 to 15, 000 in 2017 making them unaffordable to those who lose their donkey.

To date, the trade of donkeys for their hides is banned in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. Last week an abattoir in Ethiopia was closed down by local authorities.

A major concern however is that trade continues on the black market and there is increased trade in other African countries.

Brooke as a whole continues to monitor this global issue and is working with its teams across Asia and Africa. We are listening and learning from owners and users and supporting them to protect their donkeys and in turn their livelihoods.

Brooke has championed the essential role of donkeys in poor people’s livelihoods. We recently made a submission highlighting the impact of the donkey skin trade to the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE), after they called a public enquiry looking at Critical and Emerging Issues for Food Security and Nutrition. Previous to this, our Advocacy team had already succeeded in having working equines' contributions to food security and nutrition officially recognised in livestock recommendations formally endorsed by the CFS.

Our submission was accepted and the CFS has now published the results of their enquiry. We're pleased that this issue has been acknowledged and incorporated into the findings, and are looking forward to when it's presented during the the annual Plenary Session of the CFS, in October 2017.

We were supported by the governments of Senegal and Kenya, as well as the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the U.N. We have also ensured that the donkey hide trade is included in the Emerging and Critical Issues Consultation by the CFS High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE).

In low and middle-income countries all over the world, working donkeys, horses and mules support people and industries in a variety of settings: from subsistence smallholders to the urban poor. They enable families access to food and healthcare and help keep children in education.

They offer women financial independence and relief from the drudgery of daily chores. They work alongside their owners in some of the most exploitative and treacherous environments such as brick kilns, construction sites and mines. They bring their owners respect and appreciation within their communities.

Despite their essential role in supporting the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people, working animals are virtually invisible in development policy and programming.

This means their needs do not feature in livestock related intervention and policies. For example, equine drugs are often not available, health professionals are not trained in equine health and livestock vaccination campaigns do not extend to working equids. This is detrimental to animals as well as to the people who rely on them.