TANZANIA Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI) experts are implementing a preliminary research aimed at creating a forum for professionals to work on a programme that breeds donkeys in the country.
The ongoing preliminary research, dubbed ‘On Station Studies for Donkey’s Husbandry’ incorporates studies on phenotypic and genetic characterization of donkeys available in Tanzania.
According to TALIRI’ s Director of Technology Transfer Division at their headquarters in Dodoma, Dr Jonas Kizima, the programme is aimed at improving on -station and onfarming donkey management in Tanzania.
He further said the implementation of the maiden research is a directive from the government, adding: “Since 2017, it appears there has been a growing spate of illegal slaughtering of stolen donkeys in many parts of the county, the situation is now pushing for possible solution to non- conventional animals in Tanzania. “Because of that, the government had tasked TALIRI to draft and start implementing vital strategies, which would improve and ensure professional management of donkeys in Tanzania.”
He further said that it would be coordinated and implemented at TALIRI’s Kongwa Center in Dodoma, adding that in future the focus would be on engaging pastoralists to keep donkeys with best methods and professionally.
“The studies pertaining to phenotypic and genetic characterization of donkeys seek to establish behaviors of donkeys, including their natural production, fodders as well as their health management,” said Dr Kizima.
Elaborating, the director expressed high optimism that the results of the research will provide a gateway for further studies on donkeys in Tanzania.
“For instance, in Tanzania donkeys are often used to facilitate diverse domestic economic activities and not for human consumption….though in some other countries, donkeys are favourable meat for some people. “In the future if resources will allow, we’re also planning to conduct a study health benefits of a donkey’s meat as food for people. “For years now, donkeys have received little attention from researchers because conventionally they are viewed as low class animals, and study on them is also accorded low priority,” he pointed out.
Apart from providing meat and labour power, a donkey’s skin can be processed to secure gelatin that is sold as a traditional medicine and beauty product in some Asian countries like China.
By 2017, it was estimated that the number of donkeys in the country was roughly 250,000, making Tanzania to grapple with creating awareness in public knowledge about their socioeconomic benefits.