Donkey meat has been legalised and certified for human consumption in Kenya.
The Meat Control (amendment) Act 2012 documented donkey alongside horse as a food animal in Kenya.
While butcheries have not been licensed to sell donkey meat, interested parties and owners of abattoirs can seek licences at the relevant veterinary offices to slaughter and sell the meat outside the country.
According to Nakuru County public health officer Samuel King’ori, the legalisation of donkey meat came after a study was done on the health risks of the animal.
“After the tests, it was proven that donkey meat is as safe as beef or mutton and an agreement was reached to issue licences to those who are interested in operating slaughter houses. However, the meat is not for local consumption but solely for export,” Dr King’ori explained.
One such abattoir is Goldox donkey slaughter house at Mogotio in Baringo County.
The abattoir, which was opened in April 2016, and is owned by Mr Lu Donglin, a Chinese, is the only one of its kind in the country.
The establishment sits on five acres with an additional five acres as reservoir land in case of expansion.
When Nation visited, over 700 donkeys had been delivered and were awaiting slaughter at the holding ground.
According to Mr Donglin, about 600 donkeys are received at the abattoir on a good day and about 400 when the supply is low.
“We depend on suppliers from as far as Tanzania, Turkana, Trans Mara and Maralal,” he said.
One of the suppliers, Mr Joseph Kena, from Eldoret town, said he stopped selling electricity poles and delved exclusively into the donkey business.
Mr Kena buys a donkey at Sh8,000 up from Sh2,000 when the business began last year.
Once the supplier delivers the animals, a county government veterinary doctor stationed at the slaughterhouse checks and clears each donkey.
The doctor checks for diseases, pregnancy, those that are hurt and the weight of each donkey.
“The Ministry of Agriculture does not allow us to slaughter an animal that weighs less than 100kg. If an animal weighs less, it is separated from the rest and fed, until it attains the recommended weight,” Mr Lu explained.
“We slaughter up to 300 donkeys every day and sometimes more, depending on the demand,” said General Manager Alex Songoyo.
Surprisingly, most of the workers Nation spoke to admitted to never eating the meat while some cringed at the idea. The meat is exported to China.