Now You Know: Transporting Live Animal Cargo in Kenya

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January 15, 2014

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If you’re a Kenyan who regularly uses public transportation, chances are you’ve had the dubious honor of being seated next to a fine lady or gentleman cradling a barely restrained live chicken. As said fowl glared at you menacingly for the duration of your journey, a question we’re sure crossed your mind was “Is there really no better way to transport live animals?”

Why lie, before the introduction of the Buses plying the route of NEP roads, we use to use lorries for transporting both livestock and ourselves during holiday breaks, you need to remember.

With a capable supply chain manager, the answer is yes. In freighting of live animal cargo, three main options exist for logistics planning purposes in Kenya: trekking, generic trucking and specialized trucking.

The most common way to get animals from one place to another, more so larger animals, is simply to have them walk there. This is known as transportation by trekking. This is common in the less urban areas of Kenya, where having animals struck down in traffic is not likely: animals on display at livestock markets in the more arid parts of our country are generally driven there by their owners, who are usually peasant herders themselves for who investing in transport vehicles would be unnecessary. This is also common for transportation of “show” animals such as horses or camels, which can usually be rented to offer rides at a small fee, usually at entertainment venues, hotels, and the like. Where independent contractors have been hired to provide such animals, they are likely to lack cars that can safely hold a horse or camel, and will often resort to riding them to where they are needed and back.

A step up from this is transportation of live animals via generic trucks. One would be hard pressed to find a Kenyan who is yet to see a number of goats or pigs tethered to the back of a common pick up truck or lorry in transit. This method of transportation employs the use of vehicles in their original state or with minimal customizations to freight animal cargo by road. Such transport serves to expand the distance to which animals can be transported, and facilitate the movement of a large number of animals depending on the size of the vehicle. Even so, majority of cars utilized in such cases are not well equipped to handle such tasks, resulting in possible harm to animals.

Photo Credit: Kristian Rangel Valari

Photo Credit: Kristian Rangel Valari

This can be resolved by using specialized vehicles or vehicle extensions manufactured with the purpose of animal transportation. These can be expensive to purchase or rent, but make freighting infinitely simpler: being adapted to holding animals, they are often spacious enough to ensure comfort of the animal, and have facilities to place feed, water and receive waste during the journey. Such vehicles or extensions are also designed to make loading and unloading cargo as convenient as possible without having to resort to makeshift footbridges or physically lifting the animals into the vehicle. A common example of a dedicated vehicle extension would be the “crates” used by security firms in Kenya to transport guard dogs to areas they are to protect overnight. These additions are usually sturdy enough to hold bulky dogs, built to measurement specifications that ensure maximum safety and comfort of the dogs and are equipped with necessities such as extensive air vents to keep them well ventilated.

Supply chain managers, even the unofficial ones, thus have to contend with making sure live animals are transported in a fashion that meets the requirements of laws protecting animals, conform to hygiene standards and keep the animals safe, preventing further stress that may be detrimental, e.g by lowering milk or egg production. Next time you find yourself staring down an agitated chicken with very sharp looking talons, remember: it is merely an innocent casualty of unfortunate logistics planning for market to plate transportation. Opt for a salad today, won’t you?


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