World Animal Day is a day that is celebrated every 4th October globally. The aim of the celebrations is to educate humans about how their actions impact animals and create awareness on the protection of animals all over the world. World Animal Day also unites organizations that advocate for better treatment of animals and that work in the animal welfare movement into a global force.
To mark this day in 2020, Agency for Cross Border Pastoralists Development (APaD), Kenya Network for Dissemination of Animal technology (KENDAT) The Brooke East Africa and Farming Systems Kenya came together to celebrate animals in Nakuru and Nyandarua counties through the Farriery week dubbed ‘No Hooves, No Donkey’.
The week meant to create awareness on the importance of hoof care for donkeys in Nakuru and Nyandarua counties from September, 29, 2020 to October, 2, 2020 with activities such as farriery clinics, donkey owner sensitization on hoof care and the trade of donkey skins and hides in the two counties.
The peak of this activity happened on October, 2, 2020 at Dundori center, Nakuru county, whereby a procession was held to celebrate the donkeys and educate the donkey owners on the importance of taking care of their donkeys for their well-being and production. Songs of praise for these working animals filled the air as the donkey owners marched in a bid to spread the message of donkey protection.
Residents, both donkey owners and non-donkey owners came out in large numbers to celebrate this day and also quench their thirst in matters donkey welfare in a small mini baraza held after the procession. The donkeys also had their own share of treatment as they were dewormed and also had their hooves trimmed by the different farriers that were present in the event to prevent overgrowth, causing injury to the animal. A society can truly be judged by how it treats its animals.
Also in attendance at the mini baraza was the local administration in the area such as the chiefs and the sub chiefs who ensured that the COVID 19 guidelines and protocols laid out by the government were observed.
“Donkeys help in generating employment and incomes for households. It is this income that helps the donkey owners to take care of medical, education, housing, and social requirements for the members of the households as well as investing in other business enterprises. It is therefore crucial to take care of their welfare to safeguard livelihoods” Said Eston Muriithi, the CEO at KENDAT.
Speaking at the baraza, one donkey owner, Josephine Kimani mentioned that Nyandarua County for example has a population of approximately 8,000 donkeys and their role in transporting farm produce to markets cannot be ignored. In all the cases, donkeys are used to transport the produce from the interior smallholder farms where the road conditions are very poor to produce collection centers that are situated where there are all-weather roads.
The celebrations came at a time when the CS for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Peter Munya had just announced a ban on licenses of the four licensed donkey abattoirs in Kenya as a result of the already diminishing donkey populations.
Before closure of the abattoirs, there had been a high demand for donkeys for slaughter in the abattoirs, a situation that led to high cases of donkey theft in areas that the donkey abattoirs operate. A perfect example is the Silzha abattoir in Lodwar, Turkana county that had its license provoked so as to minimize cases of donkey theft in Turkana county and the entire Karamoja cluster. Others that had their licences revoked include; Fuhai, Goldox and Star Brilliant in Machakos, Baringo and Nakuru counties respectively.
APaD, together with other animal welfare organizations continue to encourage the government to enforce the ban so as to safeguard donkey populations and protect the livelihoods of people who depend on them, such as the pastoralists. We can only hope that the ban will remain in place.