Equine Rescue

Is Donkey Skin the New Ivory?

by Alixandra Caole Vila as published at Nature World News

African Donkeys are Being Slaughtered to Extinction

While China’s taste for elephant ivories have died down, it seems like their fondness has shifted to Donkey skin this time.

According to the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals (NSPCA), South African donkeys are being slaughtered to extinction for the gelatin found in their skin and their meat.

While the donkey-hide gelatin has no commercial value in Africa, it is a popular ingredient used to create Chinese medicine to treat anemia and menopause-linked ailments. The gelatin, called Ejiao in Chinese, reportedly stops bleeding and strengthens the blood.

“[Ejiao] is quite a popular ingredient in China that people may self-prescribe,” Chinese medicine expert Mazin Al-Khafaji told The Independent. “It’s a hard gel, made from donkey hide, which is then dissolved in hot water or alcohol. It’s also used topically in a cream, for leg ulcers for instance.”

CNN noted that because donkey skin is highly sought-after in China, the donkey population went down from 11 million to six million in the past 20 years. Approximately 80,000 animals had been sold in the first nine months of 2016. While the demand had delivered a valuable stream of foreign currency, it has placed small-scale farmers in a difficult situation.

China File said that because the price of donkeys increased, rural communities who depend on the animals for livelihood are suffering.

Speaking with Science Times, a donkey owner in Mogosani village named Ikgopeleng Tsietsoane shared that currently, the price of a donkey is 2,000 rand. It used to be only 400 rands ($30 or 29 euros).

At present, a number of African countries, including Niger and Burkina Faso, have banned China from buying their donkeys to save the docile beast’s population and the livelihood of locals. However, smuggling still persists in areas where it is considered illegal to do so…(CONTINUED)


9 replies »

  1. Wild Burro Protection League
    February 17
    This is a comprehensive seven page post about the state of animal welfare and animal rights in China.

    Current Status of Animal Welfare and Animal Rights in
    Jiaqi Lu,1 Kathryn Bayne2 and Jianfei Wang1
    1Department of Laboratory Animal Sciences, GlaxoSmithKline, R&D China; 2Association for Assessment and
    Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, Frederick, USA

    The consumption of exotic food items, with the
    ensuing pressure on vulnerable animal species, is
    now resulting in large scale awareness by activists,
    some of whom are members of animal rights organisations,
    who are particularly concerned about
    these practices.

    Attitudes toward animals
    are changing, and the Chinese public are becoming
    increasingly aware of animal welfare. Notably, the
    Chinese authorities are becoming tolerant toward
    this changing attitude, allowing animal protectionist
    welfare groups to train and recruit volunteers,
    protest on university campuses, and vent their
    concerns, thoughts and anger on the Internet.


    • Slaughter is always brutal but the problem with this is that as a result, donkeys are in serious danger of going EXTINCT… this is about much more than cruelty. Of course it is very cruel, certainly not debating that.
      (no, I don’t eat meat, and haven’t since 1969.)


  2. The problem is that although China has used ejiao in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) for over 2000 years, it was previously only available to nobility. Now, state run media is pushing the sale of ejiao to a newly emerging middle class in China. They tout all kinds of curative qualities from ejiao including MS cure, beauty creams, respiration improvement, strength, virility and improved circulation. We are seeing an increasing demand by kill buyers for donkeys whom they previously mostly overlooked. This means our American donkeys are a part of the skin trade too.

    There are 600 million people worldwide who rely on donkeys, mules and horses to survive very harsh conditions. In many of these cases, the loss of the family donkey is a tragedy akin to losing one’s home. It is devastating. The women and children must take up the load of carrying wood, tilling fields, and gathering water. So, the loss of the world’s population of donkeys is not only a tragedy of extinction, this extinction will have far reaching humanitarian implications, as well.

    The world’s large animal and donkey welfare organizations need to form a task force that puts them all on the same page to approach the Chinese government with demands for stopping the importation of donkeys throughout the world. They must learn to create a sustainable market for their product that is kept withing the boundaries of their own country. Better yet, it would be truly wonderful if the people could be weaned from ejiao to an animal friendly product that has the same qualities they believe are provided by donkey skins.

    Without action, make no mistake, the world’s population of donkeys will be declared critically endangered worldwide. This subject on this holy weekend when a donkey played such a major role on Palm Sunday seems surreal to me and very, very sad. The heavens are crying now. ~Marjorie Farabee


  3. Today of all days, I am struck by the hypocrisy of people who want the wild burros gone from their rightful lands. On this day, the day of Christ’s resurrection I am reminded of the humbleness of the donkey, and his designation in the Bible as the animal that represents peace. On this day, I think of the Bible stories that tell of the many roles played by the humble, peaceful donkey in Christ’s life and times. Throughout the Bible and also other religious texts, the donkey plays a major role. In the desert there could be no greater partner than the donkey who can survive four days without water and acted as a water diviner when allowed to follow their instincts. The donkeys carried goods and people great distances while needing little to survive. Even now, scientists are tracking donkey fossils to determine the spread of human civilization around the globe for they were always the chosen beast of burden carrying goods afar in trade.

    Yes, we owe much to the donkey. Yet, the donkey asks for nothing in payment other than to be treated fairly. On the day Jesus was born a small donkey stood vigilant over the cradle of Jesus, and Balaam was warned by a donkey given speech to not betray the Jews. Then, on Palm Sunday the donkey rode into Jerusalem with Jesus aboard in a semblance of peace and servitude. Yet, now, everyday we read of violent acts committed against this kind animal. Jesus and God loved the donkey, yet today the wild donkeys are violently treated by hunters and game managers who call them pests and vermin. These same people would most likely identify themselves as Christian without seeing the hypocrisy of their actions toward their own religion as they ask to remove donkeys by whatever means possible. They ask to issue hunting permits, and issue roundup orders. They ask to send these sublime animals given as a gift to all of us, to slaughter. And, now to add to all of the pressures on donkeys to survive we have the Chinese skin trade. It hurts my heart.

    On this day of resurrection my hope is that the donkey will rise again as a creature who is appreciated and understood in the way that he is by God. I pray that the humble donkey will at last be rewarded by finding a way to bring out what is good in all of us. At long last, a resurrection of the altruistic side of humankind might help people find it in their hearts to provide a small parcel of the planet where they can be safe with their families, wild and unharassed by violence. I think that on this day of resurrection, Jesus looks down on His kingdom and weeps for the donkey He so loves, and is saddened at them being harmed by the humans He gave His own life to save. There is a real sadness to His tears for all of us. ~Marjorie Farabee


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