Donkey trade at Kenya´s borders

Restricting cross border trade of donkeys - and preventing animal suffering - through new knowledge

Tracing donkey trade
In Kenia gibt es nach Zahlen aus 2019 1,2 Millionen Esel, im Nachbarland Äthiopien 8,8 Millionen Esel und in Tansania 650.000: Die Tiere wurden im Angesicht des Eselhauthandels zu wertvoller Ware. © Solomon Onyango

Globally, producers of Ejao, an alleged remedy used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, are on the hunt for donkey skin. In the last few years, Kenia has become the center of the trade in East Africa. In 2019, 380,000 donkeys were slaughtered and their skins exported to China. However, not all of these animals are originally from Kenya. In neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Tanzania donkeys are – often illegally – obtained and sent to Kenya.
The Welttierschutzgesellschaft, together with its partner African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), is examining the donkey trade at Kenya’s borders to Ethiopia and Tanzania. The resulting information will be used to inform the public about this problem and to push political action going forward.

Kenia, Tanzania, Ethiopia

In many countries worldwide, donkeys are suffering because of Chinese demand for their skin to produce Ejao. This development has a special impact on states in East Africa like Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia as they have become one of the hotspots for trading donkey skin. The donkey trade has a catastrophic impact on animals and families that dependent on the work of their hoofed animals.

The donkey trade is a cruel drudgery for the animals. However, up until know, very little is known on how the trade between Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya is being run. We aim to close this knowledge gap to be able to develop targeted interventions on behalf of the donkeys and their owners.

Nach dem langen Transport in die Schlachthäuser sind viele Esel am Ende ihrer Kräfte. © Solomon Onyango

To get a better overview of the trade, we are sending teams to border regions like Marsabit (Kenya-Ethiopia) and Migori (Kenya-Tanzania) to investigate the situation on-site. Those regions have been chosen deliberately: In Marsabit, there is the only border crossing between Kenya and Ethiopia. Migori is located at one of the main roads for transporting farm animals from Kenya to Tanzania.

The teams’ work is guided by the following questions:

  • How many animals are passing the borders between Kenya and Ethiopia or Kenya and Tanzania on a daily basis?
  • Where are the animals originally from?
  • Where are they supposed to be transported?

We are talking to various groups of people (local and national authorities, NGOs) to uncover those and other unknown facts.

© Solomon Onyango

Together with the local donkey owners

For us, it is essential to include the donkey owners as well since they need to know about the potential dangers associated with the donkey trade and must be enabled to protect their animals. Furthermore, they are especially important for our work because they know the ongoing situation and therefore can provide valuable information and experience. In addition, they can be especially motivated to engage in improving the situation. We will also work closely with the local communities to inform them about animal welfare and ways to better protect the donkeys in their communities.

© Solomon Onyango

Examining legal requirements

Moreover, local laws applying to the donkey trade are being analysed. Possible loopholes can then be pointed out to local or even national authorities.

Making a lasting change through new knowledge

The goal of this project is to obtain insights to the cross-border trade of donkeys between Kenya and Ethiopia as well as between Kenya and Tanzania. The report of the situation will lay the groundwork for further action on behalf of the donkeys:

  • We want to move Kenya´s authorities to initiate regulations that result in minimizing and controlling the trade with donkeys across borders.
  • In Ethiopia, we want to present the results to the national government so that existing laws will be checked and potentially overhauled.

Last but not least, we will give access to those results to international and local media to gain broader attention to the problem. It is important that people are informed about the problems with the donkey trade and its consequences, especially with regard to the local communities in the affected countries. They need to be empowered to take the initiative to protect their animals, but also to petition their authorities to change the existing laws.

This is how we want to take next steps in battling the donkey skin trade in Easter Africa. Dear animal lovers, please help us! Your donation helps us guarantee a long-lasting protection for donkeys.

Support our work!

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