Animal welfare at Tanzania’s markets

More empathy for “commodity” animals

Livestock markets in Tanzania

Covid-19 crisis: Animal welfare work in times of a pandemic

Some activities and focal points of our animal welfare work worldwide – whether sanctuaries, trainings or mobile clinics – had to be paused or adapted in response to the pandemic:

Still, it is our highest priority to safe animal lives, but we cannot risk the health of our partners in doing so. To enable us to carry on our basic animal welfare work despite the current crisis, we have developed the WTG Emergency Fund. Read more about the fund here

We promise to do everything in our power to continue offering the best protection for all animals – the stray cats and dogs, livestock such as donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats as well as wildlife like pangolins and sloths, elephants and bears. Please support our work

The animal welfare situation at many markets, during transport and in slaughterhouses in Tanzania is dramatic. Despite the existing animal welfare law, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats and other farm animals suffer brutal treatment in many places, mistreatment and neglect of their basic needs, such as the provision of feed, water and protection from the sun. Together with the local organisation Tanzania Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO), we are working to improve animal welfare across the country.


The hardships for the animals destined for sale at markets already begin on the way there, since inadequately secured loading areas often result in injury of the animals during transport. Once at the market, and in the absence of ramps, the cattle and donkeys have to jump off the trucks while being beaten. Sheep and goats remain tied together by their legs in the same position for hours. Without feed, water and shelter, the animals are then often exposed to the blazing sun for up to ten hours and are consequently dehydrated and severely weakened.

Bringing animal welfare into focus ...

Together, we have made it our goal to improve the conditions for the numerous cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats and chickens. With the involvement of the authorities and market management responsible for a total of 700 markets, as well as inspectors, veterinarians and traders, we are sustainably strengthening animal welfare – directly at the markets but also during transport and ultimately at slaughter.

Livestock markets in Tanzania
© Tanzania Animal Welfare Society

at the livestock markets ...

Our project started in 2016 at 20 markets, where wells were built and feeding stations as well as drinking places were set up. In addition, a loading ramp and water trough were installed at two large trading sites (in central Tanzania and in the coastal region). They clearly demonstrate the simple means with which animal needs can be met and serve as a model for further loading ramps and water troughs. We gradually expanded this outreach to other markets and since 2019 have already been carrying out intensive animal welfare work at 100 markets in the country.

There, partners train animal owners, traders, market employees and transporters by means of personal conversations and appeal to them to comply with applicable animal protection laws.

With the help of a flyer developed for this purpose, clear drawings can be used to explain the proper handling of animals and how to take their needs into account. These include the provision of feed and water, the construction of shelters, and the notification of veterinarians or veterinary specialists in the event of an emergency. The flyer also refers to the Animal Welfare Act passed in 2008 and names the internationally recognised Five Freedoms as a guide for animal welfare-friendly behaviour. In addition to the dissemination of knowledge about animal welfare through personal conversations, the information is displayed on large notice boards at the markets.

Livestock markets in Tanzania
© Tanzania Animal Welfare Society

Through regular follow-up visits to all markets, we continuously ensure the maintenance of animal welfare measures and compliance with the principles enshrined in the Animal Welfare Act. If animals require medical assistance, we also provide primary care, vaccinate and supply them with vitamins and minerals.

The success of this work is apparent: At the beginning of our project in 2016, the loading and unloading of the animals was not infrequently carried out using violent methods (including beating with sticks and pushing) and was associated with great stress and often physical injuries for the animals. As a result of the dissemination of information, the handling of the animals has improved significantly and the loading of the animals is usually calm and controlled. Furthermore, the risk of injury is minimised with the help of loading ramps that make it easier for the animals to get on and off the loading area. Some livestock markets have been completely restructured for the benefit of the animals due to our information campaign.

Livestock markets in Tanzania
© Tanzania Animal Welfare Society

Building on this success, we are now expanding the project by a further 100 markets throughout the country and will thus be working to improve animal welfare in a total of 200 markets in Tanzania in the future.

during transport ...

In the first year of working together with TAWESO we tackled animal welfare problems on 20 markets in Central Tanzania. On each market a well was built and feeding grounds and drinking places were installed. Continous controls ensure that existing laws and requirements are met.

Also, through the use of information material such as posters, but primarily through personal conversation, we called upon people's awareness for animal welfare which actually led to improvements in transportation. Loading and unloading are now conducted in a controlled manner and there are ramps for the animals that facilitate getting on and off loading areas. After succeeding there, we extended the project to ten further markets in the coastal region. We talked to those responsible about problems in animal welfare that come up on the market and during loading and transportation. We visit all 30 markets on a regular basis and ensure that the measures as agreed upon are fulfilled.

Livestock markets in Tanzania
© Tanzania Animal Welfare Society

Since the animals occasionally have to stay on the trucks for up to 1,000 km on their way to and from the markets, we also conduct practical workshops for the employees of the most important transport checkpoints in the country. In these workshops, the employees are taught criteria for animal-friendly transport, for example:

- the optimal loading density

- a needs-oriented design of the transport vehicle, including partitions and floor conditions

- the handling of animals lying on the ground and

- ensuring water and feed availability during stops.

We were also able to achieve that the trained inspectors no longer only check the drivers and the roadworthiness of the vehicles, but also pay more attention to animal welfare. They simultaneously pass on the information they receive about correct loading and the welfare of the animals during transport to the drivers and livestock traders. In order to maintain the quality of the controls and thus ensure the improvement of the transport conditions, our partner’s team is regularly on site for ongoing training.


Livestock markets in Tanzania
© Tanzania Animal Welfare Society

These measures are being expanded: While we have been working at 10 checkpoints so far, in future, our partners from TAWESO will regularly visit a total of 20 checkpoints nationwide and train the inspectors employed there. In addition, the so-called regional managers of our teams will check the condition of the animals along the four largest transport routes in the country – at the loading points, during transport as well as at their rest and night quarters.

Particularly pleasing: Stirred up by our notice boards, which we have also placed permanently at the checkpoints, the national traffic control "TANROADS" has intensified the inspection of animal transporters on its own initiative. This not only prevents damage to roads caused by overloading but also promotes animal welfare in the long term.

... as well as before slaughter.

With our project, we also want to create sustainable improvements for the animals with regard to slaughter conditions. To this end, we are working in the 20 slaughterhouses around Tanzania's largest animal trade centre in Dar es Salaam, as well as in more than 20 other slaughterhouses across the country, of which only 35 are currently operating under animal welfare-friendly conditions, for example in the stunning process prior to slaughter.

In the slaughterhouses at the animal trade center in Dar es Salaam alone, more than 1,000 cattle and 500 sheep and goats are slaughtered every day for sale to the local population – often without stunning, even though this is required by animal welfare legislation. The situation is similar elsewhere: In addition to the lack of anaesthesia before slaughter, countless animals do not receive feed or water, leaving them weak and often barely able to stand on their feet.

Many of the donkeys traded in our partner's areas of operation are not intended for sale: Animals are stolen from their owners to be illegally supplied to the lucrative market for the donkey skin product "Ejiao". The suffering of the animals is immense: on completely overloaded transport vehicles, the animals are often carted hundreds of kilometres across the country without the provision of feed and water. The destination is almost always one of the donkey slaughterhouses in Shinyanga or Dodoma, where they receive minimal, if any, care and wait for days, completely emaciated, for their suffering to end. Unlike other animals, their "purpose" is reduced to their skin – so whether the animals are well-fed and hydrated is irrelevant to the traders. The situation escalated in January 2021: The operation of the slaughterhouse in Shinyanga was discontinued, but the traders were not informed of this and continued to deliver donkeys. About 2,000 animals were neglected, some of them severely – until our emergency aid began: (german)

By maintaining a dialogue with those responsible for the regular but also the donkey slaughterhouses, our partners work towards the implementation of the animal welfare standards – i.e. the animal-friendly treatment of the cattle, donkeys, sheep and goats as well as a supply of feed and water. Additional information material also reaches the employees who work with the animals and can therefore also influence and improve the conditions for the benefit of the animals. 

© Tanzania Animal Welfare Society

Our commitment is also proving successful here: stunning before slaughter has already been assured for five new, large slaughterhouses, including both state and privately operated ones.

Cooperation with government agencies

Since the country's largest livestock markets are under government supervision, attention must be paid to maintaining close cooperation with government agencies. The first workshop with a total of 40 market managers from the largest livestock markets, organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, has already taken place and laid the foundation for a close exchange. We drew attention to the prevailing animal welfare problems and explained how they can be remedied by simple means.

Our partners are continuing to maintain close contact with those responsible at the Ministry. Our goal: to improve animal welfare in the country in the long term.

Together, we are well on the way to achieving this goal. Step by step, we are changing the conditions for farm animals throughout Tanzania for the better – so that animals are perceived and treated as sentient beings. Help us to do this – with your donation!

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We aim at improving the situation for animals in long term i. e. by providing veterinary care, by supporting animal sanctuaries and through our educational work. Every single donation helps!

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For more information, please contact:

Daniela Schrudde
Programme Director

Tel.: +49(0)30 – 9237226-0

Welttierschutzgesellschaft e.V.
Reinhardtstr. 10
10117 Berlin