Donkey and Horse welfare

The Issue

Working equines in Kenya are among the longest-suffering animals on earth.
Donkeys have long been a major support to human livelihoods, with their incredible work capacity being deployed for hauling heavy loads, delivering water and so on. Despite being intelligent animals with some particular care needs, poor services and prevailing cultural attitudes mean that donkeys are often abused and forced to work when they are unable to do so.

Urbanisation and modernisation have seen the number of working donkeys in areas such as Greater Nairobi and Naivasha decline, but at the same time conditions for the remaining
donkeys are very poor. Overloading, poor harnesses, lack of care and malicious abuse are common issues.

By contrast, interest in horses has spread in Kenya in the last few years, with horses now a common sight at riding stables, entertainment events and shopping malls. There is no
regulation of the use of horses and typically a very limited understanding of the complex needs (and associated cost) of keeping a healthy horse. Owners without experience have purchased horses and stables as investments. However, with inflation and the economic impact of COVID, conditions for the animals have declined sharply and we are dealing with a number of complex cases of extreme neglect and abuse. For example, at one riding school we inspected this year, we judged none of the 14 ponies fit to ride, and yet they were being used daily by heavy adults as well as children.