, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 4 – Kenya on Monday marked the World Animal Day by staging a caged demonstration involving human beings, who were locked up in small cages for five hours.
The event which was observed in the country for the first time also featured a photo exhibition and a public sensitisation campaign at Central Park in Nairobi to demonstrate the suffering animals experience in kennels, zoos or on leashes.
The Executive Director of the African Network for Animals Welfare (ANAW) Josphat Ngonyo said Kenyans should take full responsibility for the suffering that animals go through in order to improve the situation.
“The challenges facing animal welfare in Africa are enormous and I urge the people not to shy away from the grim reality on the scale of the problem," he said.
He also asked the government to upscale its efforts in protecting animals regardless of their economic value. Mr Ngonyo claimed that the State was not keen on looking after the needs and rights of domestic animals as they were low on the priority scale.
"The only time government bodies get involved is when there is a rabies outbreak or a dog savages someone. There has also been a large increase in the use of guard dogs and most owners don\’t know how to keep dogs confined without causing them welfare problems," he said.
Mr Ngonyo further explained that poor dietary and housing provisions as well as the lack of proper primary health care also contributed to animal abuse.
"There is very little specialised veterinary expertise in this field. And we also lack expertise in a large number of diseases that affect companion animals," said Mr Ngonyo
He added that animals were also exposed to cruel conditions when they were being transported from one point to another: "Animals are inhumanely carried by hand, tied to bicycles, in trunks of cars and on roof tops, especially chicken, sheep, pigs and goats," he said.
He further argued that the move towards conservation of wild animals had also opened an arena where animal rights could be abused.
"Even in national parks, protection often falls short of what is needed. There is elephant culling in South Africa and while Kenya fights to maintain its commitment to conservation, Tanzania is adamant on a $480 million road project which cuts across traditional migration routes in the Serengeti National Park," he observed.
Mr Ngonyo further alleged that trade in bush meat continued to thrive even with laws and regulations outlawing it.
"Rural populations often view wildlife either as a threat to life and property or as a source of illegal protein supply," claimed ANAW Director.
This year\’s event was organized by ANAW, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) and the Animal Welfare Action Kenya (AWAKE). The animal rights societies vowed to continue in their pursuit of increasing public awareness and supporting animal welfare until such a time when it becomes part of the African culture.
"Animals are used to traction and ploughing including bulls, horses, oxen and donkeys. The lack of education increases problems of animals\’ welfare," said Mr Ngonyo.