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The Working Ox of Embu, Kenya​

The ox is a very important animal to the community in Embu. Almost every household has got an ox. These animals play a very significant role most especially in domestic activities while its use economically is unparalleled. In the home, women use the ox to carry water from the wells and rivers, pasture like grass for the rest of domestic food animals as well as fire wood: things that otherwise the women would strive to do.

Economically, the people of Embu use the ox significantly to pull ploughs, carts with seeds or farm produce. Being the most popular working animal in this area, the ox comes in handy in carrying other materials that are necessarily not farm linked. This include carrying construction materials and furniture as people move.

These benefits from the ox are invaluable. However, the ox is intentionally or unintentionally mistreated and disregarded as owners run to read advantages from the animal. In a quest to push the animal towards more productivity (in terms of results), the animal is oft times whipped hurting it. This is evident from whip inflicted patterns and lesions on the skin. Other evident signs of trauma include broken tails and piercings.

Poor quality yokes inflict very characteristic traumatic patterns easily pick around the neck region. Yokes in this region are made from wood which may have irregular margins and uncut knots. In addition, these animals are not provided with padding to prevent injury due to friction. On the other hand, carts are also commonly made from bad material that consequently inflict trauma on the ox. Besides, the carts are regularly overloaded making it even harder for the animals to pull.

The body conditions of the animal usually presents as poor. This indicates that the animals are often fed less or with low quality feed and made to work more.

Most of the animals were evidently scared of the mere human presence often running away when approached. This goes on to prove that the animals are mistreated by their human owners. Also evident was the unsympathetic beatings inflicted on the animals as the owners restrained the animal when
being treated.