Written by Editorial Team, DonateToday
Published: Thursday, 15th February 2018

'My whole life I have relied on the donkey – it feeds my family' – donkeys in Kenya being stolen as demand meat and skins increases

Kisima lives in Nimalat. Since her husband died unexpectedly, she has been homemaker and breadwinner for herself and her nine children – a challenge made all the harder when one of her donkeys was stolen. Now she is part of a welfare group working with international animal welfare charity Brooke to keep donkeys safe in Kenya.

Stolen

Kisima earns money selling charcoal at the market in Nimalat, Kenya. Her livelihood depends on using two donkeys to help her. ‘My whole life I have relied on the donkey,’ she admits. ‘It feeds my family and I and educates my children too.’

Unfortunately, there is a growing trade in donkey meat and skin which is fuelling the widespread theft and slaughter of these animals. One of Kisima’s donkeys met this fate.

‘We were sleeping, and my eldest son was not around,’ she recalls. ‘We could hear the goats mew, so I got out of bed. I went around the house but couldn’t see anything. I went back in because I felt it’s not good to walk by myself at night.

‘I got up at 3am to pray,’ Kisima continues, ‘Only to find that only one donkey was outside. For a minute, I thought that it had just walked out a little bit to look for food. I looked around but saw nothing.

‘I then sat until morning and took the kids to school. I looked around the village for my donkey, but it wasn’t there. My son came to help me look for it, but we still couldn’t find it.’

Kisima journeyed to nearby Ntulele and Narok to search for her donkey but still had no luck. Eventually, after three weeks, she was forced to conclude it had been stolen and that she had lost her animal for good.

"This was a big loss: my daughter had to stay home for a whole term"

Kisima

Illegal

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the trade of donkey meat and skin. Since April 2016, three slaughter houses have been licensed in Kenya – slaughtering 400 donkeys a day.

This increased demand has, in turn, caused a sharp increase in black market activities, supplied by illegal slaughter and theft of the animals. Many Kenyan families rely on their donkeys to earn a living and so many Kenyan families are suffering because of the sudden loss of their animals.

One of Kenya's working donkeys

Kisima was already living close to the poverty line so to lose something so important to her work and her family was devastating. ‘I got together the money to buy another donkey,’ she says. ‘This was a big loss: my daughter had to stay home for a whole term.’

Hope

In response to the current situation, UK charity Brooke is working with groups on the ground in Kenya to try and protect the donkey population in the country.

Kisima is part of a women-only donkey welfare group which recently entered the charity’s Linda Punda competition, looking for ideas on how to protect the animals from health.

‘My hope is that we can build somewhere we can shelter our donkeys and also provide someone who will guard and feed them at night and during the day,’ she says. ‘Those women whose donkeys have been taken should be bought new ones, so they are able to work with us, and allow us to grow together.’