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Cartel involved in donkey theft and illegal slaughter emerges in Mwingi 

Nyumba Kumi clusters are spearheading a crackdown on a cartel involved with the theft and skinning of farmers’ donkeys in Mwingi West and Mwingi Central Sub-Counties.

In the past one month, according to Caritas Kitui, an organization involved with safeguarding the plight of donkeys, close to 55 donkeys have been stolen in the two Sub-Counties.

Peter Kitheka, a Nyumba Kumi cluster chairman from Kaviani Sub-Location in Mwingi West, has been involved in a man-hunt that managed to discover 8 skulls dumped in a thicket.

Speaking to Kenya News Agency on Tuesday in Mwingi, Ambrose Musyimi, a Programme Officer at Caritas Kitui, approximately 100 donkeys are used to ferry goods every Wednesday to the market in Mwingi town thus supporting rural economy.

“It is estimated that one donkey contributes Sh 200 per day for six days per week to the rural economy amounting to an average of Sh 4, 800 per month or Sh 57, 600 annually,’ said Musyimi.

He observed that the 2009 Population and Housing Census records that Kitui has 136, 500 donkeys, ‘In a bid to show that the donkeys run the economy in Kitui County, each year they inject Shs. 7.2 billion to the local economy.

The County operates on an annual budget of Sh 8.4 billion.’

The National Livestock Policy estimates that 50% of employment especially in the Arid and Semi-Arid (ASAL) areas come from the livestock sub-sector where the donkey forms the cog that runs the rural economy.

In the economic value chain, donkeys are used for transport, agriculture and support the tourism and hotel industry.

“Cart and pack are used to transport goods and people, enabling physical access to places, used for harrowing, tillage, weeding using the draught,” added the Programme Officer.

Musyimi observed that donkeys are supporting women in carrying out social functions such as fetching water and firewood apart from generating direct income through hire.

Dr. Bernard Waweru, a veterinary doctor working with Caritas Kitui, said that 48% of donkeys in Kitui County have hobbling lesions on their legs due to poor tethering whereas 85% had tail based lesions and an additional 83% has girth and belly lesions.

“We encourage donkey owners to use sisal ropes to tether their animals and avoid using synthetic or thin ropes that accelerate the growth of lesions. These lesions can lead to death if not well managed,’ said Dr. Waweru.

The vet said that Caritas Kitui is working closely with all the farmers to improve the welfare of working donkeys through the prevention, and reduction of their suffering now and in the future.

Dr. Waweru challenged donkey owners to feed their animals well, allow them access to water at least three times a day, clean their hooves, practice appropriate home based wound care and use proper tethering ropes.

By  Yobesh  Onwong’a

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