The Donkey Harvest: Wasting Chances

On the assumption that you still welcome correspondence from your readers, I write in connection with last week’s item (05/09/17) on “the illegal donkey trade”. A full and very readable article on what could or should be a quite important subject. Reference to “the Oxpeckers” was not fully understood, but they seem to be a commendable feathered flock.
As was pointed out in a recent copy of Botswana’s own farming magazine, any legitimate crop or type of livestock that can be humanely and successfully raised by rural Batswana MUST be to national benefit. If cattle, sheep, goats – and chickens – have been traditionally raised for slaughter and income for centuries past, why not donkeys? Is there a tougher animal that thrives better in our harsh and arid conditions? But now GoB officials have apparently closed down the trade, and a few questions come to mind:
One: Given that government are genuinely concerned in improving the lot of the rural and urban poor, why were foreign nationals or companies given licence to exploit the “huge demand” existing in Asia for donkey hides, hooves and flesh?  Where is the substance to the declared encouraging and enabling of LOCAL entrepreneurs in this field?  Given the close association of our Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security with raising any livestock, would some sort of Private-Public Partnership not have been possible?  There is plenty of talk, in a theoretical sort of way, on such possibilities.
Two: Why, once the donkey “slaughter slabs” (which really sound rather nasty) were authorised by MoA/MADFS, were they not scrupulously supervised by dedicated Veterinary staff to see that the small animals were transported in and then held in fully humane and sanitary conditions till slaughter? Too much else for the staff to do? Then why not prioritise more appropriately – and if needful charge the dealer-exporter a levy on every beast to cover any “extra” donkey-related expenses on the Vet Dept.?
Three: Was P50 not an absolutely derisory, laughable fine to impose on a dealer for gross and avoidable cruelty to dump animals, especially considering the numbers involved. Would P50 000 not have been more in line, and served as a serious deterrent to similar such despicable crimes?  And who was the identified culprit, where and by whom fined? Answers please, Oxpeckers.
Four: Why would a Member of Parliament, supposedly educated, qualified and clear-headed, pontificate that donkeys [in Botswana] would “go extinct” if regularly harvested for hides, flesh or any other purpose?  Since when have Batswana barui been ignorant enough to needlessly destroy their own breeding stock (e.g. of cattle or goats) when their main (or perhaps only) income is derived from these animals? What patent nonsense!
Five: With the BMC in Lobatse having problems with consistent supply of beef to EU, should our salesmen/women not be up in Europe (reportedly as recommended to GoB “back in 2001”), grabbing orders for that prized delicacy, donkey-meat sausages? As with the Oriental scene, if the DEMAND is there, are we seriously gearing up to SUPPLY? And with no foreigners involved, this end, more than absolutely necessary?
Anyway, The Botswana Gazette and the Oxpeckers are to be congratulated on bringing to light an unsavoury and regrettable area of the nation’s pastoral practices. It is to be hoped that the MoA-proposed donkey pitsos around the country will result in some sound and practical proposals concerning the relevant export trade – which lead to fully humane and enforceable codes of practice.  And which allow the country’s rural poor to properly benefit from this Oriental “huge and insatiable demand” for a legal and widespread national product. Any aspiring MP with this sort of progressive attitude would certainly get my vote.