Horse Slaughter, Wild Horses & Burros; Senate Save – House Kill, What the Heck Does It All Mean?

Source: ASPCA

“Today we share with you a recap of recent legislative events that impact the future health, safety and well being of not only our domestic equines but also our federally protected wild horses and burros. Today’s news round up comes from the ASPCA and is a very readable article that helps to clarify the whirlwind of events and future legislative action relative to the wild ones, we thank the ASPCA for putting this together.

Likewise, we would like to recognize Neda DeMayo and the efforts of RTF for keeping us up to date and focused on the events of the past several weeks…many thanks.

With all that said, you have not heard much, specifically, from Wild Horse Freedom Federation; there is a reason for that so please allow me to briefly explain why.

As I type, every single member of our Legal Staff, Directors, Officers and volunteers at WHFF have their collective nose’s to the grindstone putting the final polishing on a five year project that is ensured to raise eyebrows, shine a light on the truth and give both legislators and the public the tools that they need to further the protection of our wild horses and burros. We stand at the brink.

Stimulate your curiosity? Then stay tuned, remain focused and keep the faith…we will prevail, my friends. Until then, may the Force of the Horse be with you.” ~ R.T.


photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The ayes have it! That was the Chairman’s call Thursday morning in the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee after it passed the Udall-Graham-Coons-Feinstein-Reed-Collins-Shaheen Amendment to prevent horse slaughter plants from reopening on U.S. soil.

This amendment to the fiscal year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill is the Senate’s response to the House Appropriations Committee’s narrow, disappointing failure to pass a similar provision last week (in a 25-27 final count). It also means we have a fighting chance to retain the horse slaughter prohibition in the final law when it passes.

The House and Senate each work on a different version of the annual Appropriations bill. Once both House and Senate have passed their respective bills, they merge them together and decide which provisions to keep and which to toss. The key to our ultimate success for horses is to ask both chambers, particularly leadership, to retain this important prohibition.

For more than a decade, Congress has rejected the idea that the government should spend our tax money subsidizing horse slaughter. Outcry from voters, animal welfare advocates, equine rescues, horse industry groups, veterinarians, farmers and therapy organizations has been extremely compelling for most legislators.

Polling at the federal and state levels has repeatedly and resoundingly demonstrated that Americans view horses as companions, not food. As work and therapy animals, athletes and friends to young riders, horses have served us well. Allowing them to be served to diners overseas is not acceptable.

While this amendment cannot completely prevent all horse slaughter, we have seen encouraging statistics this year showing a dramatic 44% decline in the number of American horses taken over our borders for slaughter. We are on the right track, and once we are sure horse slaughter plants are not allowed to operate on our soil we will direct our energy to passing the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 113). This bill would permanently prevent horse slaughter in this country as well as halt the transport of our horses to Mexico and Canada for this gruesome purpose.

The future of our nation’s wild horses was also considered this week—by the same House committee that opened the door for slaughter last week. Not surprisingly, the committee approved an amendment to allow the killing of thousands of healthy wild mustangs.

The U.S. has protected wild horses and burros from wholesale massacre for decades, but the Trump budget proposal seeks to allow the government to take the lives of thousands of horses held captive in holding pens. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) offered this amendment to remove protections against killing any wild horse, and it passed over the strong objections of many members of the committee. We must speak out against lethal measures like this, and we must prevent the Senate from voting the same way.

Congress takes the month of August off. With this recess looming, we encourage advocates who want to ensure we win these fights to engage their federal legislators back at home in their districts and states. If you want to help wild and domestic horses, please join the ASPCA’s Horse Action Team and we’ll arm you with the information you need.

Today: The Horses and Burros Won a Battle, Tomorrow: The War Rages On

Many thanks to RTF and Neda DeMayo for this update!

“Senate Says NO to Horse Slaughter

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved, on a voice vote, an amendment barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from hiring horsemeat inspectors – keeping alive the effort to prevent legal horse slaughter from returning to our country.

That’s good news — but there’s still much to be done.

In the days ahead, the Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the interior appropriations bill, which includes the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

Despite the same committee voting against horse slaughter today, recent votes in the House show that we cannot take it for granted that the committee will reject proposals to kill wild horses.

The situation in Washington, D.C., is much too precarious not to keep pushing.

Please call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (if you reach a full voicemail, look for district office phone numbers on your senators’ webpages and call them) and tell your senators:

* I oppose any provision that allows the Bureau of Land Management to kill wild horses,

* and I oppose any attempt to remove sale restrictions, opening the door for BLM to sell wild horses to kill buyers.

Proven, humane solutions that would enable the BLM to manage wild horses on the range are available. We do not need to kill national icons.

Return to Freedom appreciates the bipartisan leadership of anti-slaughter amendment sponsor Sen. Tom Udall and co-sponsors Sens. Lindsey Graham, Christopher Coons, Susan Collins, Dianne Feinstein, Jack Reed and Jeanne Shaheen.

Most of all, though, we at RTF and other advocacy groups are grateful for all of you who have called Congress – whether for the first time or the 50th – and encouraged friends and family to do the same. Thank you!

It is true that we are up against powerful interests intent on ridding the West of wild horses.

The opposition has been effective in sowing mistruths about wild horses starving across the range and casting doubt on fertility control vaccines recommended by the National Academy of Sciences and proven safe and effective at our own sanctuary and in many other projects and studies.

Not on our watch, we say.

What wild horses have on their side that can be even more powerful than our opponents’ deep pockets are the voices of the American people, who consistently and overwhelmingly reject slaughter and continue to stand by these living symbols of freedom.

So, keep going. Keep calling. Keep spreading the word.

The future of America’s herds depends on all of us.

Horse Slaughter Vote a Setback, but There’s No Time to Let Up!

Source: Return to Freedom, endorsed by Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Attention now turns immediately to the 2018 Interior Appropriations Bill that could potentially threaten the lives of tens of thousands of America’s wild horses and burros.  

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation and other advocacy groups on Wednesday expressed disappointment in the House Appropriations Committee’s vote opening the door to horse slaughter, but urged supporters of wild horses and burros to keep the pressure on Congress.

“While today’s vote is disheartening for the overwhelming majority of Americans who oppose horse slaughter, there may be critical votes as soon as next week that could further threaten the lives of tens of thousands of wild horses and burros,” said Neda DeMayo, president of Return to Freedom.

“We must redouble our efforts and stand strong for America’s wild horses.”

The full House Appropriations committee voted 27-25 to reject the Roybal-Allard/Dent horse slaughter defund amendment to the Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Find out how members of the Appropriations Committee voted by clicking here.

Because there is no permanent federal ban on horse slaughter, advocates push annually for an amendment barring the U.S. Department of Agriculture from hiring horsemeat plans inspectors to effectively keep a ban in place. Advocates may have another chance to turn back slaughter when the Ag Appropriations Bill goes to the full House for approval in the weeks ahead.

Attention now turns immediately to the 2018 Interior Appropriations Bill that could potentially threaten the lives of tens of thousands of America’s wild horses and burros.  

A draft version of the Interior Appropriations Bill OKed by the House Interior Subcommittee, also on Wednesday, does not include provisions called for by the administration that would have allowed the Bureau of Land Management to kill healthy horses or sell captive animals without restriction.

While that’s good news, advocates must not be complacent. An amendment calling for inclusion of those deadly provisions could be offered when the full committee meets again, likely next week, so it’s critical that advocates continue making themselves heard.

TAKE ACTION

  • Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be connected to your representative;
  • Tell staff that your wish to urge your congressperson to oppose any provision that would allow the Bureau of Land Management to kill wild horses or to remove sale restrictions that would open the door for BLM to sell horses and burros to someone who would sell them for slaughter;
  • If your representative is not on the Appropriations Committee, please urge him or her to oppose horse slaughter when the Ag Appropriations Bill goes to the floor, as well as any provisions that could harm wild horses in the Interior Appropriations Bill.
  • Please be sure to mention that humane solutions that would enable the management of wild horses and burros on the range have long been available.

These solutions include not only using safe, proven fertility control but revisiting population targets, based on a fair interpretation of multiple-use land management; providing incentives for ranchers who reduce livestock grazing in wild horse Herd Management Areas; increasing range stewardship, including much-needed water source restoration; and relocating horses, but only if truly necessary.

Feel Good Sunday: Studies Show that Women Who are Horse Guardians Live Longer than Those Who Aren’t

Source: Breaking News247.net

“The next pressing question should be; ‘Do men who live with female horse guardians live longer?’ or maybe more to the point, ‘Do men who live with female horse guardians have more money?’, just asking.  Have a Feel Good Sunday.” ~ R.T.


Equine photographer Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation with several members of the rescued Fitch herd ~ photo by R.T. Fitch

Recent studies done in Western NC, Northern Virginia and northern Florida involving various groups of “horsey” and non “horsey women are showing some startling results. The double blind study followed women in different age groups over a forty year time frame to capture this objective data.

The study grouped women into two groups of horse (for at least five years) & non-horse owners and then further into ten year age spans. The most significant spike in longevity came at the 65-75 age span which showed highest disparity at 20 longer lives for horse women.

Researchers point to the facts of higher forms of exercise, outdoor exposure and socialization of the horse women as likely contributing to the longevity but the women agree that their horses often contribute to their sense of well-being and as a group, these women also tended to be less symptomatic in high blood pressure, diabetes and general heart conditions.

Great News! New York Senate Votes to Increase Penalties for Animal Cruelty Offenses

Story by as published on One Green Planet.org

People convicted of serious animal cruelty crimes will now be banned from owning companion animals.

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

We have some great news for animals! The New York state Senate passed legislation on June 6, 2017, that would increase penalties for those convicted of animal cruelty. This legislation was sponsored by Republican Senator James Tedisco, and it received support from both major parties. According to Tedisco, “It’s the most bipartisan, nonpartisan day of the session … It’s a privilege to have an animal; it’s your responsibility to take care of them.”

People convicted of serious animal cruelty crimes will now be banned from owning companion animals. Additionally, they voted to double the jail time and fines for these crimes, from two years in prison and a $5,000 fine to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Those convicted will also be required to undergo a psychological evaluation. There is also a bill before the assembly that would make harming an animal a felony during the act of another felony, such as a burglary.

This is amazing news considering so many cases of animal cruelty either don’t get reported or when they do come to court, the penalties are hardly enough to deter people from repeating similar offenses. We are thrilled New York has made this major step to fight animal cruelty, especially since cases of animal cruelty have often gone overlooked and underpunished. We hope this is a sign there will be more improvements in animal cruelty laws across the nation.

Please share this good news with your friends and family!

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/new-york-senate-votes-to-increase-penalties-for-animal-cruelty/

Remember the Horse Cavalry This Memorial Day

Reprint from Saratoga Stalls

Thank and pay respect to a horse and donkey as you remember our amazing fallen soldiers.

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance that echoes throughout the United States.  Families, friends and loved ones often gather in celebration of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  The last Monday in May, and the weekend beforehand, is a much needed break in our routine.  Some families take this moment to teach about our country’s history and past relatives who laid down their lives while others simply enjoy the long weekend off of work.  If you view Memorial Day as an opportunity to revisit the sacrifices that have made our country great, don’t forget about the amazing horse cavalry of the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I and World War II.

Though there are still small examples of horse regiments in modern day warfare, using mounts in war started to lose popularity as modern technology, think tanks and Jeeps, soared during the World Wars.  Historically, however, brave battle horses filled numerous roles in supporting the soldiers for more than 5000 years.  They were trained and used for details such as charging enemy lines, reconnaissance, transportation of goods and soldiers, and very importantly, companionship.

When settlers began to arrive in the Americas, they learned military methods from the indigenous tribes that they encountered.  This new style of trench fighting, combined with equine support, was crucial in helping the United States win the Revolutionary War and its independence from England.  Can you imagine where the USA would be today if she hadn’t had the support of horse troops during America’s war of independence?  The United States of Great Britain doesn’t flow well, does it?

The Civil War was a long and bloody conflict, and was especially hard on the horses of America. In our Memorial Day remembrance this year, let’s realize that thousands of horses died in the Battle of Gettysburg alone.  Confederate General J.O. Shelby was reported to have had 24 horses shot from under him during the war.  In total, the Civil War claimed more than one million mares, stallions and geldings, with some estimates of horses and mule lives lost hovering around three million.  That’s five horse or mule lives given for every soldier life lost… horses that had been taken from local homes and farms to fight in the war.  Bullets, bombs, overexertion, starvation, illness, and worse took these horses to their resting place.

Thank and pay respect to a horse as you remember our amazing fallen soldiers.

Poems, songs and stories have been written to honor the multitude of military mounts that have helped the United States military win the fame and freedom it enjoys today.  In a couple of special cases, the horse itself was actually preserved and is still on display for the public.  The KU Natural History Museum currently displays Comanche, the gelding ridden by Captain Myles Keogh at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Additionally, Little Sorrel, Thomas Stonewall Jackson’s respected Morgan, can be viewed  at the Natural Museum of American History in Washington DC.

Though not as prevalent, horses continue to play an important role in today’s armed forces.  Battle trained horses have mostly disappeared but the US Special Forces and Marines have used mounted patrol in other ways during recent training and conflicts.  Local law enforcement and State Park Rangers also appreciate the mobility of having horse units on patrol for certain events and in difficult to access areas.

So with this reminder of the great role horses have played in America’s military past, let’s take a bit of time out of this holiday weekend to do something special for our favorite horses.  Whether you bring them special treats, take them on an interesting new ride route or simply stop by to give them a little extra time and grooming, your horse will appreciate your attentions.

The Memorial Day weekend is a time to honor our fallen soldiers, their mounts included.  This holiday is a privilege granted to us by the sacrifices of both man and horse, a fact that, hopefully, many will remember.

http://saratogastalls.com/remember-the-horse-cavalry-this-memorial-day.html

Girl Who Couldn’t Speak Uttered First Words to Donkey: ‘I Love You’

by Leigh Scheps of Inside Edition

Feel Good Sunday

The first thing Amber Austwick ever said out loud was “I love you” to a donkey. The 6-year-old is a twin who was born prematurely at 26 weeks. She suffered from complications at birth that forced doctors to perform a tracheotomy. Amber never said a word until she met her four-legged friend at this donkey sanctuary. Her time there is therapeutic, and since her introduction to the donkey, Amber’s become a lot more confident.

To ALL Mothers Great or Small: We Love and Honor You This Day!

“It is my most sincere hope that no Mother visits this blog, today, but instead is with her family celebrating this day of life and hope.  But should some stray, animal loving mom stray a bit and visit us we would like to dedicate the blog to you and all mothers regardless off number of legs, wings or fins.

Today is yours, we love you all!!!” ~ R.T.


Feel Good Sunday: Donkey offers Finals Week stress relief for Snowflakes at Montana State

Source: Multiple

“Thanks to the kindness of the gentle donkey as his gentle spirit reaches out to privileged college students who do not realize that adult life has no safe harbors or feel good zones.  In the real world it is those who reach out, extend and open up who succeed in making a difference and NOT those who suck their thumbs and hug their security blankets while the world falls apart around them.

This is a lesson that teaches that through the eyes of an equine a soul can be touched and inner peace has the potential to be achieved.  We can only hope that the generation of entitlement and privilege learns that life is not a handout but instead a ‘reach-out’ to the natural beauty and efficiency that surrounds us…before it is too late.” ~ R.T.


A donkey named Oliver joined several therapy dogs offering stress relief during Finals Week at Montana State University in Bozeman.

The 8-year-old brown and white donkey was standing inside the front entrance of the university library on Tuesday. Owner Stephanie Bar tells the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that since it was Oliver’s first time at MSU, she wanted to make sure he got a lot of attention.
Students petted Oliver, hugged him and took selfies.

In another part of the library, students sat on the floor and played with dogs provided by volunteers with Intermountain Therapy Animals.

Sierra Bosley says she looks forward to seeing the dogs at the end of each semester.

From the Land Down Under: “China Wants Our Donkeys Dead or Alive!”

OpEd by Andrea Jenkins – Donkeys of Australia

Over the past few months I have read many articles about donkeys. There was one article I read a couple of weeks ago though that really hit a nerve.

The article included a stunning picture of a donkey, gazing out from his paddock. The barb wire that cut across in front of him indicated that he stood just behind a fence. It led me to imagine a stranger stopping road side with camera in hand, readying the exposure for the autumn sunlight and the yellow daisies. He waits, aware that the donkey has his ears pricked and stands attentive to this new energy invading his home. Curious, this gentle, wise creature meanders over to say hello. The stranger shoots and then is gone, taking a moment in time with him to use as he wishes.

I don’t know this donkey personally. Perhaps he is your donkey? Or someone you know? I imagine other photos he stands in, cuddled by the grandkids, lazing in the sun, a beloved family member that sits in frames on the mantelpiece for the world to see.

I’d love to own this donkey, yet I’m happy I don’t. I don’t think I could bare it. The stranger has not taken this particular photo to show how cherished and adored this donkey is. Mortified, I read the caption: good enough to export.

Yes, sadly, this donkey has become the latest face for donkey export to China. He is pitted next to the words of Barnaby Joyce as a creature with a price tag, an economic commodity, an edible product worthy of export. The nerve it struck was raw. It rocked me to my core. How can we be asked to look at this magnificent creature and see it as a dead product being shovelled into the mouths of those that search for a miracle elixir for eternal youth and vitality?

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Like I said, I’ve read many articles about donkeys over the past few months. In fact, I’ve read, watched, spoken on the phone and data analysed the horrors the ‘insatiable’ appetite for Ejiao brings crashing to our shores.

It’s been extremely challenging for me to witness the creature I love more than anything get decimated in such a brutal way, but I feel I must walk with them through this struggle as they have walked with us through constant struggles throughout time. I must stand with them now and help their voices be heard. It is with their characteristic traits of love, compassion and humility that I proceed to further my education and, hopefully, the education of others, with regard to the issues facing Australian donkeys.

I am sure many of you have read the horrors that are linked with the donkey skin trade. I’m sure you have read that what is, essentially, donkey poaching, has become a regular occurrence in some parts of Africa. I’m sure you have read about the exorbitant prices donkeys are now selling for and the fact that those living in rural villages can no longer afford to replace their donkeys, leaving them without a means to collect their water or send their children to school. I’m sure you’ve heard of the donkey slaughter houses, the string of animal welfare concerns and the shocking statistics that draw many to believe our beloved donkeys are vanishing from this world. I am not sure, however, that you have been able to find much information on the current Australian situation and what it means for Australian donkeys.

So here I am, writing this article for you. It is my aim in writing that I am able to summarise what I have learned, to date, on Ejiao and how this skin trade is expected to affect our Australian donkeys . I am by no means claiming to be an expert on the matter. I am simply one girl who uses Google and the telephone and has been willing to dive into the hay stack, so to speak, and try and find some answers. This brings me to the second aim in writing this article. It is also a desperate cry for help. It is my wish that we may come up with a structure for research and action together as we venture forward with, and for, our beloved donkeys. What I write now details the journey Ejiao has taken me on so far.

When I first heard whispers that China wanted our donkeys, I wrapped myself in the safety net I, and many others, naively believed we had. It seemed that we did not have the numbers of donkeys required to make the idea of donkey export viable. That teamed with the vast and unforgiving landmass the donkeys inhabited seemed to make the cost too much for a return that was far too small. It still seemed that culling was the preferred method of eradication.

Yet, as time passed, donkey populations in China—and globally—started to dwindle, demand for Ejiao skyrocketed, pressure on global markets to supply the increase in demand grew exponentially and the viability of exporting donkeys to China suddenly changed as the price tag kept rising. Pressured with ongoing enquiries the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources (NTDPIR) compiled a report into the potential of donkey farming in the Northern Territory (September 2016).

Again, even though the report ultimately found that donkey farming was viable, either as a stand- alone venture or complimentary to the cattle industry, I thought we had a safety net. The safety net seemed to be that there was no Tier 2 processing facility and no operational export protocols to China. Reading that the capital outlay required for such a facility would be somewhere between the $50-$100 million mark and knowing there were no operational protocols for export to China made it sound, again, that the donkeys were to stay on Australian shores.

Yet, as I researched further and talked to more people on the phone I began to understand the saying ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ really does apply to the situation here. Everywhere I turned looking for the next piece of the puzzle I got offered a piece that didn’t fit. I found that when I stopped allowing myself to get distracted by the technical jargon of protocols I, instead, found a big picture with most of the puzzle already in place. Like I say, I am only one girl and I am fully aware that I have more research to go, yet this is how I have come to see the big picture so far.

China wants our donkeys. The Australian agribusiness sector wants to expand export opportunities and make as much money as possible. Station owners want the feral donkeys gone. Farmers want ways to diversify their stock to get them through tough times. Multi-species abattoirs are being built with heavy Chinese investment. Chinese investment in Australian agribusiness is seen as desirable. Trial kills of donkeys are currently happening. More wild donkeys are already being rounded up. The Coalition Government has recently signed a Joint Statement with China to hugely expand market access for Australia’s red meat and live animal export industries to China. Barnaby Joyce is publicly announcing that Australia will be providing edible donkey skins to China and pushing it as a big, new market. Tariffs on hides and skins exported to China are being eliminated between 1st January 2017 and 1st of January 2022. The price of wild donkeys being rounded up and sold has already drastically increased.

So what does this all mean? Yes, China will be getting our donkeys. There may be a few little things to sort out in terms of protocols but it is happening. No one is standing in the way and stopping things from progressing forward. Most of the information I have read indicates that wild donkeys will be rounded up and breed as livestock for the Ejiao trade. Edible donkey skins will be exported to China. Some of the donkey meat will be sold within Australia as pet meat. Some of the meat will be sold internationally for human consumption. It also seems that, as the export market to China opens up under these new trade agreements, donkeys could potentially be live exported to China as well.

Even as I write that last sentence, my heart breaks a new. Not only will I be living in a country that potentially has no wild donkeys left. Not only will I be living in a country with fields of donkeys tagged and fattened ready for the slaughterhouse truck. I will also be living in a country that makes the conscious choice to send sensitive, emotional, smart, alive creatures on a ship, destined for a place of unfathomable animal cruelty. Do you think you can live in the country I describe? Unfortunately, this is what we are facing.

Of course there are obvious animal welfare concerns as are always evident with creatures subjected to the tortures of live export, yet there are more subtle and insidious concerns at play too. One thing I am concerned about is that wild donkeys are to be rounded up and sold as breeding stock. Will the breeding jennies have any much needed maintenance and care? Will their hooves be trimmed? Will their health be attended to? An ongoing animal welfare issue with the Ejiao trade is the lack of donkey healthcare as it is only the skin that is deemed valuable making money spent on overall health a waste of finances.

Another concern is the distances donkeys will be transported to abattoirs. The multispecies abattoir being built in Charleville will apparently be transporting donkeys from the Northern Territory and perhaps even South Australia. Will these donkeys be given the required rests, food and water? How tightly will they be packed in? If rounded up from the wild and trucked, how are foals and pregnant jennies going to be cared for? How will they be treated as they are rounded up, trucked and, ultimately, slaughtered? As ‘pests’ donkeys are not given the same protective rights as other animals in Australia. I will admit that I don’t know how far their protective rights are striped due to their classification as pests yet it is important to ensure that their welfare is adhered to at all stages of transport and processing.

Yet another concern I have is how will this big, new market be regulated? Can anyone start farming donkeys? How is the government going to monitor who is involved in this trade and how this trade is carried out on a day-to-day basis? As the avenues for export open up, there needs to be regulation on this trade, right from the small, hobby farms to the largest stations in the country, along with any wild stock that are mustered and sent straight to slaughter. Many of the people who are going to be involved are experienced in the needs of cattle and are not educated when it comes to donkeys. It is my desire that, for those joining this industry, they are required to gain further donkey specific education.

Now I write about my biggest concern: that our wild donkeys will become extinct and we will either be left with donkeys stuck in a horrific cycle of breeding and slaughter or with no donkeys left at all. This concern comes from a couple of factors. One factor is that no one knows how many donkeys we have to start with. There has been no accurate headcount of donkeys in Australia ever. Yet those, like Barnaby Joyce, who are pushing donkey skins as the next big industry, claim on a very public platform that Australia has millions of wild donkeys. This is simply not the case. The NTDPIR has a far more realistic estimate of the number of wild donkeys, stating that they believe there are roughly 50 thousand donkeys in the Northern Territory—although this figure is thought to be about ten years old and is not considered reliable. If we don’t know how many donkeys we have in the first place, how can we know if this trade, and the way it is to be carried out, will be sustainable?

Another factor is that, with the current Ejiao demand, upwards of 4 million donkeys are already believed to be slaughtered each year and the global donkey population literally cannot keep up. This is being reported with the dwindling of numbers in different parts of the world. It is believed donkey populations in China have halved, Mexican donkeys are considered endangered and some are predicting that, if things don’t change, the African donkey could be extinct in as little as five years If indeed our donkey population is somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 our donkeys could be wiped out be Ejiao demand in a matter of weeks. Even if farming does occur in the near future, stock numbers will need to be built up and stabilised. This will take time as donkeys have a long gestation period and do not breed well in stressful situations. If export opens up as we expect it could under these new trade agreements and wild donkeys are sent straight to multi-species abattoirs for processing it might not be long before they are all gone.

In conclusion, I would like to ask that we unite in action going forward. I know it might seem too big an issue to tackle or too graphic an issue to engage with. This does not have to be the case. No action towards this cause will be wasted. Everything counts. I know signing petitions may seem pointless but they are not. One petition to help Australian donkeys, that has over 5,000 signatures, has been mentioned in a news articles that details Barnaby Joyce and his new donkey skin trade desires. It is important that we continue to make our voices heard.

Another suggestion for action is to research a small part of the situation here and report it back to the various donkey societies, or to the facebook page I have created. An area for research might be to keep an eye on how many donkeys are being rounded up, record prices of donkeys at auctions and who is buying, figuring out if the abattoirs near you are exporting donkeys, monitor the news for further information etc. If you are happy to engage with media you could look for news reporters and TV hosts that are willing to run a section on Ejiao (in a respectful manner). You could apply pressure on different organisations to get an accurate population count so that we have more reliable information on the sustainability of the skin trade. You could help change the classification of donkeys as ‘pests’ so they are granted more protective rights.

There are so many ways you can help. Even if it means simply sharing your own donkeys with the wider public more and more in an effort to alter common misconceptions associated with donkeys, perpetrated by the Australian media. It is important that more people come to realise how smart, sensitive and loving these creatures are. The more that people connect with the donkeys, the more of a movement we will be able to create to support them through this crisis.

I thank you so much for taking the time to read the article I have put together and I hope it is has been informative. Below, I have added links to information I have collected and the points that have been touched on through this article. I have also attached the ‘Under the Skin’ campaign by the Donkey Sanctuary UK. If you would like to stay updated on the Ejiao trade, please sign up. Lastly, I would like to say feel free to follow my new Facebook page ‘Donkeys of Australia’. I have set it up with the aim of creating an information hub. Thank you once again for reading and I look forward to working with you to ensure a bright and sustainable future for our donkeys.

Links:

Under the Skin https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/under-the-skin

Donkeys of Australia https://www.facebook.com/Donkeys-of-Australia-1088323071303237/

Petitions:

https://www.change.org/p/australian-donkeys-face-being-bludgeoned-to-death-with- sledgehammers-if-live-exported-to-china

https://www.change.org/p/adam-giles-please-don-t-allow-china-to-export-our-australian-wild- donkeys

Barnaby Joyce http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/other-industries/barnaby-joyce-eyes- potential-new-market-exporting-donkey-skins-to-china/news- story/0d2b690a54e020368b939192d97f5526

New Trade Agreements http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/03/24/donkey-meat-beef- agriculture-australia-china-trade-wider-ever

New Trade Agreements http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2017/03/24/china-talks- trade–prosperity-with-turnbull.html

Donkey Farming Report https://dpir.nt.gov.au/primary-industry/agricultural-developments/donkey- farming

Multi-Species Abattoir Charleville http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-08/charleville-processing- plant-set-to-open-2017/8004938

AACo Abatoir becomes multi-species abattoir http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-11/aaco- darwin-abattoir-buffalo-slaughter/8012144

Application to export to China under new trade agreements http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04- 07/aust-agricultural-company-applies-access-china-beef-market/8417796

Old article indicating the tone of the media when commenting on donkeys-

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queensland-to-become-the-ass-end-of-australia- 20090621-csw6.html

AusTrade-Information on Tariffs http://dfat.gov.au/trade/agreements/chafta/fact- sheets/Pages/chafta-opening-new-opportunities-for-australian-products-in-china.aspx