Kenya, Tanzania rank high on animal welfare in Africa

Kenya and Tanzania have edged out other African countries on animal welfare ranking, a new report shows.

Releasing the Animal Protection Index (API) 2020 report, officials from World Animal Protection noted the index paves the way for countries to develop and improve on their animal policies and legislation. 

Conducted among 50 countries, the index aims to showcase where countries are doing well, and where they fall short on animal welfare policy and legislation.

Countries assessed in Africa

Nine countries were assessed across Africa based on their animal welfare policy and legislation. They were Algeria, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Africa and Nigeria.

“Animal welfare is taking centre stage in the global development. It is not a name-and-shame or rating tool. We want to encourage governments to see the need for enacting the API Index,” said Mr Tennyson Williams, country director, World Animal Protection, during the recent launch in Nairobi.

Although global animal welfare legislation is still poor, there is hope, as some African nations will implement progressive policies that are competitive by global standards.

It is a tool geared to drive change in animal welfare policies and legislation, he said, adding:  “Policies that protect animals, protect people, too. Kenya and Tanzania’s approaches should shine as a beacon of possibility, and I hope they strive for continuous improvement.”

Population growth in Africa presents a new dimension for animals.

 “We are at cross-roads, and now is the time to include animal welfare in these critical debates on food, public health and sustainable development,” Mr Williams.

Kenya’s efforts to enforce animal welfare

Factory farming, wildlife trafficking, and stray animal culling legislation have all come under the spotlight. Kenya introduced the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, which applies to vertebrates (1962, revised in 2012), which states: Rodeos and animal fights are prohibited, placement of traps and snares that cause unnecessary suffering to an animal and failing to check on a trapped animal is prohibited.

The Act also prohibited recreational hunting, including trophy hunting. With such legislation in place, Kenya and Tanzania scored a ranking of “D”, on the API, which puts them in line with other countries such as the USA, Canada and Japan. API ranks countries in bands ranging from A-G.

South Africa was previously ranked ‘D’ but has now slipped to ‘E’ on par with Nigeria. South Africa does have the Animal Protection Act (1962) that prohibits animal cruelty on all domestic animals or wild animals in captivity.

The first API index assessment was conducted in 2014. Since then, Kenya’s scoring has improved.

Tanzania’s leadership is visible in law through the Animal Welfare Act (2008), which includes both vertebrates and invertebrates. Both are recognised as sentient beings, enshrining the Five Freedoms in law, promoting the ‘3Rs’ principles – ‘Replacement, Reduction, Refinement’, regarding the use of animals in scientific research.

However, the assessment also brought to the fore worrying trends for millions of animals. No country had issued an explicit ban on the culling of stray animal populations. Only 10 countries had fully implemented or exceeded the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare standards despite being members.

laws on culling of stray animals

The welfare further urged the government to ban the culling of stray animals. They also noted the need to pass the Animal Welfare and Protection Bill 2019.

Dr Mwenda Mbaka, external affairs adviser, Africa while presenting the findings, said culling becomes necessary where there is mismanagement between the animals and their environment

“We are critical about the culling of stray animals that interferes with their welfare. As animal keepers, we need to promote responsible ownership of animals. Only have dogs, for example, that you can manage,” said Dr Mbaka.

“We have a responsibility to put animal welfare at the heart of policy and legislation process in the individual countries.”

Dr Joan Magero, assistant director of Veterinary Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, noted that mass killing has not reduced the stray dog population.

Dr Magero added that stray animal culling could be achieved through stakeholder engagements.

“There is a need to control the environment before blaming the straying dogs. The dogs could be attracted to the poor handling of waste collection and management in our areas of residence.”

Mr Williams noted that poor animal welfare posed a threat to human being. A case in point, he added, was the extent of the ravaging coronavirus that scientists suspect has been passed from wildlife to humans as a result of poor animal welfare.

Other zoonotic diseases for animals and humans include Ebola, rabies and salmonella.

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