Donkeys driven towards extinction in Africa by demand for Chinese medicine, experts warn

Rising demand for beauty products is devastating donkey populations and is on course to endanger the species in Africa, a report reveals.

About six million donkeys are slaughtered every year for their skins, from which collagen is extracted for use in food or drink supplements and in beauty products such as face creams used in Chinese medicine, which are marketed as luxury products.

China’s donkey population has been hit hard by the surge in popularity of such products, with populations there collapsing by 76 per cent between 1992 and 2019, according to The Donkey Sanctuary.

Donkeys at a slaughterhouse in Kenya

(The Donkey Sanctuary)

Dealers are now focused on Africa, which has long had the world’s highest donkey numbers, but where the species is facing a crisis, experts warn. Traders either persuade impoverished owners to sell their donkeys – or steal them in illegal bush slaughter.

The trade is driven by increasing demand for traditional Chinese remedy ejiao, or donkey hide glue, which makers claim reduces wrinkles, cures anaemia, boosts energy and enhances libido.

The researchers say killing the animals for their skins is not only intensely cruel but also leaves women, children and communities that rely on the animals worse off.

Researchers at The Donkey Sanctuary used figures from the skin industry and statistical modelling to calculate that 6.7 million skins will be needed by 2027 to keep pace with demand. It’s a rise from today’s 5.9 million – but the researchers say these numbers are their most conservative estimate.

Africa has about 11 million donkeys, so the calculation has prompted alarm.

The new report says production of the glue rose by 160 per cent in five years from 2016 to 2021.

Numbers killed for ejiao have shot up to at least 5.9m a year in just a few years

(The Donkey Sanctuary Figures from Bennett et al (2019))

And it says social-media platforms facilitate illegal trade by allowing sellers to advertise.

“Agents working for the ejiao industry persuade people, already living on the brink of poverty, to sell their animals for short-term gain,” said Calvin Solomon Onyango, director of The Donkey Sanctuary in Kenya.

“The reality is the long-term loss of livelihood, and eventually, the loss of a way of life for many communities.

““The destructive impact of the trade has led the governments of countries including Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, to outlaw donkey slaughter.

“However, the demand is such that we now see the emergence of illegal bush slaughter, with hundreds of donkeys taken or stolen and slaughtered for their skin.

Donkeys at a slaughterhouse in Kenya

(The Donkey Sanctuary)

A worker carries one of many dried donkey skins at a slaughterhouse in Kenya

( The Donkey Sanctuary)

“Based on what we have seen here in Kenya, if the exploitation of donkeys continues at this rate, in another three to six years, donkeys could be joining rhino and elephants as an endangered species in Africa,” said Dr Onyango.

Donkey slaughter is illegal in some countries and legal in others. On Sunday, the African Union Heads of State will debate whether to ban the slaughter across the continent.

It would be the most significant donkey protection measure ever enacted on the African continent, the researchers said.

In Brazil, where large numbers of donkeys are also trafficked and killed for their skins, a bill to ban their slaughter is expected to pass the National Congress this year.

Marianne Steele, chief executive of The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “The slaughter of six million donkeys every year is an animal welfare disaster.

“Donkeys are a lifeline to people living in some of the most challenging environments on earth where the loss of a donkey can be the difference between modest survival and destitution.”

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button