Lovemore Meya Herald Correspondent
Animal conservationists are protesting the slaughtering of donkeys for commercial purposes following an announcement by a Bulawayo-based company that it has started building a $150 000 state-of-the-art donkey meat abattoir.
The conservationists made the remarks in a joint statement, criticising the proposed first donkey abattoir in Zimbabwe. This follows statements by a Bulawayo-based company Battlefront Investments’ managing director Mr Gareth Lumsden that their abattoir was set to be completed by month end. He said they have since started buying donkeys for slaughter in the next three weeks.
Aware Trust Zimbabwe has joined hands with Veterinarians for Animal Welfare Zimbabwe, Lupane Youth for Development Trust, the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Spana in protest.
“It is with grave concern that the above organisations have learned about the proposed donkey abattoir in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. We would like to highlight the possible socio-economic, animal welfare and environmental consequences that might result from such a venture, and enlighten the Zimbabwean public on the experience of other countries that have licensed donkey abattoirs in Africa. Given that the global donkey population is only 44 million, this insatiable demand is simply not sustainable. Zimbabwe has an estimated population of 150 000 donkeys, spread over the communal areas where they are an integral part of community life. The proposed abattoir in Matabeleland has an ability to process 70 animals per day,” reads the statement.
If supply met demand, using 300 working days per year, the population of donkeys could be decreased by 21 000 donkeys per year.” The conservationists said donkeys are not suited as intensive production animals, since they have long gestation periods, high foal mortality, and slow foal development rates.
“Housed in unhabituated groups, donkeys suffer from a stress-induced condition called hyper-lipemia, which can kill them. There currently is no ethically acceptable method of intensively farming donkeys, and the demand for the skin trade far exceeds the rate at which they can be produced. While some local farmers may benefit from the short-term sale of their donkeys, they are unlikely to be aware of the long-term consequences of this trade. The importance of the working donkey to communal farmers cannot be overstated,” they said.