The demand for donkey skins in particular, to produce Ejiao – a traditional Chinese medicine made from donkey-derived gelatin, has generated a significant trade across the globe and we believe current practices are unsustainable and causing mass-scale suffering.
It is reported that in China, millions of donkeys are farmed for their skins to produce a medicinal gelatin (ejiao). The global trading of donkey skins is now having an impact on donkey welfare and the livelihood of people around the world.
Why donkey skins?
The donkey skins are being used to make gelatin for a product called ejiao, a product that has been used as a traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
What is ejiao?
Ejiao (said: eh-gee-yow) is a hard gel that can be dissolved in hot water or alcohol to be used in food or drink, or in beauty products such as face creams. Believed to improve blood circulation, ejiao is used as a blood tonic by people with anaemia, low blood cell counts or reproductive problems.
The stolen donkeys are mostly working animals, which means the owners then have no transport and can’t get to market, fetch water or get children to school. The trade in skins means that the value of donkeys has risen dramatically, which makes theft more likely but also makes it much more difficult for owners to afford to replace a stolen donkey. In Egypt, the cost of buying a donkey has increased from £17 to £170.
What impact is this having on donkeys in countries where SPANA works?
The donkey skins used in the product were previously largely sourced from Chinese farms. But with China’s donkey population dropping from 11 million in 1990 to 5.4 million in 2016, manufacturers are now targeting donkeys from Africa to meet demand. This is having a significant impact in a number of the countries where SPANA works – for instance, Botswana’s donkey population has decreased by 38 per cent in two years.
Donkeys that are sold for their skins are often treated terribly throughout the transport and slaughter process loaded roughly onto cramped, dangerous vehicles, starved, and killed brutally.
Read more: https://spana.org/donkey-skins
DONKEYS are the backbone of many farming villages in developing countries. But if current trends continue, the world’s rural poor may soon need to find a new beast of burden. The animals’ ranks have thinned dramatically in many African countries: Kenya’s donkey population, for example, has fallen by half since 2009, to 900,000. The primary cause is neither disease nor declining demand for live donkeys, but instead a burgeoning market for their pelts.
China is reducing the import tax on donkey skins for use in traditional medicine despite fears over a global reduction in the animal’s population.
From Monday, the tax will fall from 5% to 2%, making imports cheaper.
Gelatine made from donkey skin is highly prized in China and purchases of hides have soared in recent years.
Donkey trade – the facts
§ 1.8m skins are traded every year – according to estimates from UK-based charity The Donkey Sanctuary – but the demand is as high as 10m
§ China’s donkey population dropped from 11m in 1990 to 3m in 2017, based on government data
§ Ejiao, the gelatine produced by boiling donkey skins, can sell for up to $388 (£300) per kilo
§ Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal have banned donkey exports to China