“My deepest apologies for sharing this disturbing article just out of the gate at the beginning of the week but it is real, it is happening and it is cruel beyond all possible comprehension. So if the bloody truth of human depravity turns your stomach and darkens your soul then I highly recommend that you do not proceed and instead, hit delete on this tab in your browser and please take away my apology.
But for the rest of us, be prepared to expose yourself to the reality of the cruelty being rained down upon one of the quietest, calmest and least assuming of all equines, the modest donkey. In a third world country, you are considered to be wealthy to have a donkey live on your little farm as the lowly donkey is a car, pickup, dump-truck and tractor all rolled into one. The thought of murdering the little beast of burden, not for food but for a cosmetic, is unimaginable. But it is happening and the article below gives you the who, why, where and what is going on. Please read on with caution and be advised that the bulk of the gruesome photos being published on the internet are not present here on SFTHH, the link at the bottom of the article will take you to that little part of hell.” ~ R.T.
- Young donkeys are bred and slaughtered for factories in China
- Ejiao is a supposedly youth-preserving gelatin found in their skin
- Four million donkeys are killed each year to meet demand for the serum
- There is no medical evidence to support the belief in its effectiveness.
They are days away from slaughter – having been bred solely for ejiao, a supposedly youth-preserving gelatin found in their skin.
Every week, thousands more donkey hides arrive here in Dong’e, northern China – epicentre of an appalling multi-billion-pound industry built on vanity and superstition – from all over the world.
The boss of one factory boasted that he sold £140 million of ejiao products last year.
‘Our only concern is that one day soon there won’t be any more donkeys left to kill,’ he said. Tragically, he wasn’t exaggerating. For centuries seen as symbols of peace and humility, donkeys are being massacred across the world with industrial callousness.
A Mail on Sunday investigation can reveal:
- Four million donkeys are killed each year to meet demand for ejiao;
- China’s newly monied middle classes believe claims that it makes ‘men virile and women beautiful’;
- The trade is having a devastating impact in Africa where donkeys are vital to livelihoods;
- The head of a British charity warned of imminent factory farming of donkeys on a massive scale;
- Chinese scientists are developing super-breeds of donkeys that grow bigger faster.
Ten thousand men and women are employed at the factories in Dong’e, where skins are boiled and liquefied to make health snacks, powders and face creams that Chinese people believe are the key to long life and lasting beauty. There is no medical evidence to support this belief.
A Mail on Sunday investigation found the industry, enthusiastically promoted by its government, has halved China’s donkey population. But as the numbers dwindle, so the trade now threatens donkeys across every continent.
Donkeys no older than three are being culled in their millions in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East and their hides exported to feed China’s insatiable appetite for ejiao.
Mike Baker chief executive of the Devon-based Donkey Sanctuary, which is closely monitoring the situation, said: ‘Suddenly we’re seeing an incredible demand. In Africa alone, the numbers could run into millions.
‘As an example, Burkina Faso, which has banned the trade, 65,000 a year are still being killed illegally.’
The value of a donkey has rocketed from £50 a decade ago to £250 today as Chinese customers pay up to £200 a month for ejiao.
As well as preserving youth, it is said to improve circulation and sex drive and makes workers indefatigable.
In sickening scenes in Dong’e, where more than 100 factories produce ejiao, we saw hundreds of donkey skins from South Africa being unloaded from a lorry by forklift truck and a donkey casually butchered on a street corner as locals ambled by.
China’s biggest ejiao factory – Shandong Dong’e Ejiao (DEEJ), which processes a million donkey hides a year, is negotiating to breed and kill donkeys in Australia and has set up a farm on the outskirts of Dong’e with 10,000 animals to breed, kill and skin.
The craze is driven by a potent mix of snobbery, superstition and state propaganda. A traditional medicine for nearly 2,000 years, ejiao was once made exclusively for Imperial China’s royal families and, later, Chairman Mao and the Communist elite.
Today, China’s burgeoning middle classes are clamouring for ejiao, which is officially promoted under President Xi Jinping’s nationalistic policy to develop the country’s traditional medicine market. Ejiao sales went into overdrive in China following a national TV advertising campaign promoting it in 2010.
The mythology surrounding the elixir dictates that the donkey skins can only be boiled during the winter months, with ejiao made during the three-day Chinese Winter Solstice the most valued with a 250g (8.8oz) slab made then fetching £2,560.
A saleswoman told us: ‘When a man takes ejiao, he will be strong and virile and have a long life. When a woman takes ejiao, she will keep her youth and become as beautiful as a princess.’
A MoS reporter joined a group of ejiao sellers on a visit to the factory from cities around China. They were told by a company official showing them the workshops: ‘If you sell ejiao to farmers in the countryside, they can work all day without getting tired.
‘We give two boxes a month to each of our workers and it makes them work faster all day long.’
At the company’s donkey farm on the outskirts of Dong’e, different species of young donkeys are kept in rows of pens. They rush to the sides of the pens to be stroked and nuzzled when anyone walks by. Here, workers told us, animal scientists are experimenting to create a new breed of donkey that grows bigger and faster to provide skins at a young age.
‘This is first of his kind,’ one worker said, showing us a sturdy, thickset black donkey he said was only a year old. Across the road from the DEEJ factory, the company president, Zhang Tengzhi, 42, invited us into his office, where he proudly handed out individually packaged square-shaped cereal bars containing ejiao mixed with dates and nuts.
‘If you take one of these every day, you will never get a cold,’ he said. ‘We give it to our workers every day and they are always full of energy and never get ill.’
Mr Zhang’s factory – which currently processes 3,000 tons of hides a year – is doubling its size and capacity to try to keep up with demand but he admitted it was struggling to source enough donkeys. ‘There are very few donkeys left in China now so we are now getting our hides from all over the world,’ he said. ‘People in China today are getting richer and living longer and they need more traditional tonics to prolong life and health.’
Tanzania is one country recently targeted by China. Only last week, 24 carcasses were found in a remote bush forest. They had been injected with poison before they were skinned. All the animals were owned by Maasai subsistence farmers who depend on them to survive.
‘We believe criminals killed these animals by injecting them with a drug,’ said Johnson Lyimo, director of the Meru Animal Welfare Organisation in Arusha, Tanzania.
‘It is very difficult to catch those responsible because they operate in such rural areas. To find these donkeys, my team and I had to drive 30 miles out into the bush and then walk another five miles to the forest where the slaughter was done.
‘We know they are injecting them, because there is no sign of fatal wounds. They have cut only near the hooves for skinning.
‘But we don’t know the chemical they are injecting. All we can say is it must be very dangerous because no hyena, no kind of bird – not even an insect – is feeding on the meat they left behind. The skins will have been exported to China.’
He said that despite their price increasing drastically, Maasai people did not sell them to the slaughter gangs. ‘The communities know the importance of donkeys to their families,’ he said. ‘They are everything – especially for their women. They provide the women’s transport.
‘Families will now have to walk many miles to market and their children will not manage to get to school because they will need to walk to fetch water to help their parents.’
He said MAWO had received funds from the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon to build ten community shelters where the Maasai could keep animals safe at night. ‘This is a very big challenge for the local people. They cannot afford to buy replacement donkeys because the Chinese trade has pushed the price so high.’
Countries across Africa have seen an exponential increase in the export of donkey hides. In Egypt, the price of donkeys has risen from £17 to £170, according to research by the Donkey Sanctuary. And in South Africa, the scale of the problem has emerged only in recent months. Nadia Saunderson, outreach officer for the Highveld Horse Care Unit near Johannesburg, said demand for ejiao in China had triggered ‘a huge explosion in illegal slaughter’.
‘In one recent incident in the Free State, we were tipped off by a registered abattoir,’ she said. ‘Our inspectors went to a location out in the bush and rescued 56 emaciated donkeys. They were in the process being cruelly slaughtered. Those responsible are unquestionably serving the Chinese medicine business. They are interested only in the skins.’
Ms Saunderson compared the trade to the poaching of rhino horns and abalone – a protected sea snail once prolific in South African waters. ‘We believe donkey skins may even be smuggled out of the country in the same consignments as abalone,’ she said. ‘It is a massive business. The slaughter of donkeys is having the same effect on their population in rural African communities as the poaching of rhino horn on rhinos.’
BARF ALERT: This is Ugly!