An eerie silence welcomes you to Baringo’s only donkey slaughterhouse that was only months ago bustling with activity.
Goldox Kenya Limited’s abattoir, which sits on a 10-acre land in Mogotio now looks desolate apart from a herd of about 30 donkeys grazing on the edges of the Nakuru-Marigat road.
This is in stark contrast to when it was teeming with donkeys from Baringo, Narok, Kajiado, Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Kiambu and Nakuru counties as well as Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Meanwhile, the brays have faded and replaced with honking and engine revs from vehicles on the road.
Goldox is among those to be affected by a ban on donkey slaughter by Agriculture secretary, Peter Munya.
Others Star Brilliant in Maraigush (Nakuru), Shilza Limited Tanzania (Turkana) and Fuhai Machakos Trading Limited (Machakos).
The ban has elicited mixed reactions from Baringo residents. While others have lauded the decision, other fear it would hurt the area’s economy.
Mary Chebii gives the order a thumbs-up. “This is something that we have been longing for and we commend the CS for taking such a valiant decision. As locals, we 100 percent welcome the ban as this facility has been a constant source of pain on us rather than joy,” Mrs Chebii said.
The amendment of the Meat Control Act in 2012 to classify donkeys and horses as food animals led to the establishment of donkey slaughterhouses with the aim of exporting the meat.
However, animal watch activists called for the ban of donkey slaughtering as it had led to a significant decline of the numbers due to rampant theft. Mrs Chebii says when the facility was opened in 2016, she had hopes that it would reduce poverty but four years down the line it looks like a mirage.
Goldox was started by Lu Donglin, who died last year and his son is now in charge. Efforts to interview him at the premises were futile when Business Daily visited the facility last Friday.
“Then, we were jubilant and happy as we had thought this new facility would completely transform our area both socially and economically as this area is semi-arid,” Mrs Chebii said.
The donkeys have also been blamed for depleting the area’s foliage.
She says unlike cows and goats, donkeys consume plenty of grass and water. “As you can just see, these animals have depleted our livestock’s feeds. Even our water pans have now gone dry.” Give us a slaughterhouse for cattle or goats, she said.
Ann Tuitoek, however, says people got jobs and a free supply of water because of the abattoir. This will end, she complains.
During its peak, the facility used to employ about 400 people but now that has dropped under 30.
“Majority of workers who have remained are predominantly cleaners,” she says.
Businesses have also suffered a hit as customers have significantly dropped due to the reduced purchasing power.
A local food business woman who did not want her name mentioned says since activities at the facility dropped, customers have significantly reduced and she foresees shutting down.
“During good days, I used to make about Sh1,500 per month but now it is even difficult to make Sh50 a day.”
It is estimated that 1,000 donkeys are slaughtered in Kenya each day.
A recent joint report by Brooke East Africa and the Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation (Kalro) says the number of donkeys slaughtered yearly was going up at 5.04 percent while the their population was rising at 1.04 percent.
The report says 301,977 donkeys were slaughtered since the commissioning of export donkey abattoirs in Kenya with 6.9 percent slaughtered in 2016, 40.3 percent in 2017 and 52.8 percent in 2018.
According to Animal Network for Animal Welfare (Anaw), donkey population has dropped from 1.8 million to 600,000 in the past decade.
One employee who feared for his job said the abattoir was supporting real estate with hotels and residential esattes coming up while the price of land was growing.
“A 50 by 100-metre plot now goes for Sh200,000 when a few years ago it used to cost Sh80,000,” the employee said.
More than 98 percent of the donkeys that are slaughtered end up in Dongo’e, China, where most of the world’s ejiao — a traditional medicine made from gelatin extracted from boiled hides — is made.
Ejiao, which was in the past prescribed primarily for supplementing lost blood is now sought for other uses such as delaying ageing, increasing libido, and treating side effects of chemotherapy and preventing infertility, miscarriage and menstrual irregularity.
It is estimated that the demand for ejiao has risen to around $400 (Sh40,000) per pound, up from $9 (Sh900) previously.
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