In a convention organized by Caritas Kitui, to enlighten the donkey owners on the best donkey husbandry practices, residents turned out in large numbers to celebrate and appreciate the services offered by this animal.
The event that was held at Musila Gardens in Mwingi town saw people from all walks of life come to have their thirst quenched on best ways to take care of a donkey to ensure a healthy and happy life.
Marching for the Donkeys
The donkey owners marched chanting slogans with the theme ‘Punda Bora Maisha Bora’ in a bid to educate the masses on best donkey husbandry practices. In the air flew placards with messages such as #MtunzePundaDaima #StopDonkeyHideTrade and #Ing’oiYituThayuWitu loosely translated as our donkeys our peace.
In the two kilometers procession, the donkey owners showed their concern on the myriad of issues that face their donkeys as they hoped that this would be addressed at the convention. Mwingi town is ranked as an Arid region and this makes the region experience water shortages from time to time, making the residents result to donkeys for transportation of water from the water sources to their households. This is hence a hotspot for donkeys like many other arid and semi-arid regions.
Some of the issues that donkeys face in this region include; Inhumane treatment, overworking, donkey theft and slaughter and ineffective regulatory framework on donkey welfare.
Donkey Theft and Slaughter
Like many other regions that have a high donkey population, Mwingi also experiences donkey theft issues. Their donkeys are stolen for what is known as bush slaughter with an aim to export their skins to China where demand is high. They however note that since the closure of the donkey abattoir in Kithyoko, Machakos County, incidences of donkey theft have reduced.
Speaking at the gathering, the area OCPD urged the residents to take security as their own initiative as donkeys are only stolen when left out in the night in open areas and should hence ensure that they house their donkeys properly. The action of leaving them to loiter at night was condemned as it is what incites the donkey thieves.
Feeding and Watering
Just like any other animal, donkeys should be fed with a well-balanced diet and clean water to drink. ‘Many donkey owners assume that since the animals are classified as grazers, they should only fend for themselves in the field but this should not be the case. It is the responsibility of the donkey owners to ensure that the animals remain healthy through the best feeding and watering practices’ Says Dr. Kamonzo
Donkey Tethering Practices
In matters tethering, donkey require a high standard of husbandry and exceptional care, including regular inspections to avoid isolation, insufficient exercise, inability to evade predators, inability to obtain shelter from climatic extremes and it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure this. During tethering, an appropriate collar or harness should be fitted to the animal.
During transport, donkey owners should ensure that proper material is used on the donkeys’ backs before placing any loads to avoid injuries and lesions on the back of the donkey.
Responsible Ownership through Proper Housing Practices
The donkey owners were urged to protect their donkeys by adoption of proper housing practices as it had been noted that so many donkeys are seen out in the open, even in adverse weather conditions and this makes them unable to withstand the conditions and may lead to contracting of diseases that may further lead to death.
Adoption of Donkey Regulatory Framework
The highlight of this convention was the Launch of Donkey Friendly Home Initiative for by the Deputy Governor for Kitui county who further emphasized on working closely with his Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Livestock and the animal welfare organizations to ensure that a regulatory framework that favors donkeys and their welfare is put in place and uphold their welfare sustainably.