Donkeys a rich cultural heritage – SPCA

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Clemans Miyanicwe

Khorixas-The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Namibia says it shares the same concerns as the Damara about their welfare and the sustainability and impact of the proposed donkey abattoirs.

Monique Redecker, the chief executive officer of SPCA Namibia, said after a meeting held recently at Outjo on the proposed donkey abattoir in the north-western town that the Damara have a rich heritage and culture associated with donkeys and the recent press release of community leaders highlights their concerns.

“We share many concerns of the Damara community in terms of welfare, and sustainability and impact [of the proposed donkey abattoirs] on the community,” Redecker said.

When asked if the SPCA would have similar concerns should the Outjo abattoir be Namibian-owned, Redecker responded: “Ownership is irrelevant when the numbers proposed are not sustainable, which would also be against Article 96 of the Namibian Constitution. Unsustainable practices have meant a dramatic increase in the cost of animals in other countries devastated by this trade and therefore the risk to animals becomes much greater.”
Redecker said the abattoir may create short-term benefits such as jobs but the SPCA questions the claims of providing hundreds of jobs, which cannot be verified as the business plan has not been presented.

“So many Namibians rely on donkeys for their livelihoods and the handful of jobs that may be created would [rob] thousands of Namibians of their livelihoods,” Redecker believes.

SPCA Namibia will monitor the situation at Outjo and in the country at large and act accordingly.
Donkey Sanctuary’s Alex Mayer told New Era the organization has been tracking the donkey skin trade for twelve months as summarized in their report.

It was found that the consequences on donkeys and the people who rely on them have been devastating in almost every country with a significant donkey population.

Uganda, Botswana, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda had their donkey abattoirs closed within weeks or months after opening, according to Mayer.

Leaders were called upon by Mayer to halt the export of donkeys and their parts until it can be proven to be humane and sustainable for the animals and the communities who rely on them.

Recently the Donkib (//ib) Ge Cultural Group called for the halt of the planned donkey abattoir at Outjo.
Abner Xoagub of the cultural group said their research and oral history collections show that donkeys play a vital role in the lives of poor and rural farmers.

The press statement says that donkeys are the only means of transport of children to school, and they are used in collecting firewood, working the land and transporting families to towns.  Xoagub said without donkeys the communities would be poor and dormant.

Xoagub also appealed to the Namibian government and all stakeholders to halt the planned abattoir.
The donkey population in the country is estimated to be around 200,000 but a formal count still needs to be done.
Xoagub in the press release also said the Damaras and Tswanas eat donkey meat as a delicacy in average quantities that do not in any way threaten the donkey population.

“We, however, observed how other countries have decimated their donkeys, which resulted in the further impoverishment of the already poor.”

Ever-Lasting Iron Sheet Investment, owned by Chinese businesswoman Stina Wu, had proposed the abattoir at Okahandja, while Fu Hai Trading Enterprise CC acquired land at Outjo.

Lindie Prinsloo of the Outjo Community Committee who organized last week’s meeting said it was an “invitation meeting which eighteen people attended to convey important information to decision-makers in Outjo”.

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