A desperate battle is being waged to stop donkeys being wiped out in Africa, as a result of supplying donkey skins to the insatiable Chinese to be used in phony ejiao “medicines”.
According to the UK Donkey Sanctuary’s report “Under the Skin”, China demands a massive 10 million donkey skins every year. Yet there are only 44 million donkeys in the world. This means that within the next four years, donkeys could be extinct.
The global purchase of donkeys and donkey skins is a savage operation run by organized Chinese syndicates who show no mercy for animals, or people that get in their way. They often descend on rural villages and steal donkeys, or force owners to sell at giveaway prices, then slaughter the animals in makeshift abattoirs.
In Kenya, we exposed a situation at a slaughterhouse where 2000 donkeys a month were killed for their skins, which were then exported to China. Thanks in part to our efforts to raise awareness about the situation, the donkey skin trade has now been banned in Kenya.
In 2017, we helped save 236 donkeys and 30 horses from the Chinese donkey skin trade. They found a home at the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary (KDS), where we pay for food and medical treatment. Many of the donkeys have been rehomed but we continue to support 100. We also pay for the care of 50 donkeys rescued from the trade who now live at the Rest Your Ass in South Africa’s Limpopo province.
In Zimbabwe, we work with MARES, a donkey sanctuary in Bulawayo that combats cruelty, rescues donkeys, and fights to end the donkey skin trade. Zimbabwe is a bankrupt state with so very few medicines available for animals and no money to buy them with. We provide food and veterinary treatment for all the animals.
An extensive undercover investigation by Network for Animals in June 2021 revealed the enormous scale and utter cruelty of the Chinese donkey skin trade in Africa. The Chinese use donkey skins to make a cosmetic called ejiao (pronounced “uh-jee-ow”), a pointless waste that has never been proven to work, and which kills millions of donkeys annually.
In Tanzania, we’re battling illegal slaughtering practices at a Chinese-run donkey slaughterhouse in Shinyanga, in the north of the region. The slaughterhouse permit is up for review in October this year, and we are working with ASPA to seek justice for the donkeys by persuading the government to end this shame on the face of the Tanzanian nation.
Hideous donkey abuse in Greece
On the Greek island of Santorini, we expose horrific cruelty inflicted on donkeys every day in the peak of the summer. Donkeys and mules are forced to carry tourists up and down a 1300-foot (400 meter) high cliff all day in the baking sun without shade, food or water.
Donkey owners say if they provided food, the donkeys would defecate and soil the path, upsetting tourists.
Some donkeys have open wounds, others have crude wire muzzles over their mouths to prevent them from eating. The donkeys’ working hours are supposed to be regulated but the authorities have done nothing because of the money donkey-owners (called “muleteers”) rake in from visitors.
In 2018, the municipal authorities promised to improve working conditions for the donkeys by providing drinking troughs at points on the cliff path. This did not happen. When our team visited the island again in July 2019, they were attacked and whipped by the donkey owners. The police did nothing, saying they were on lunch.
We support the small Santorini Animal Welfare Association (SAWA) animal shelter on the island which rescues and cares for 14 aged donkeys who will live out their final years in peace there. SAWA also lobbies local authorities to act against the cruelty inflicted on donkeys. We will continue to press for a long-term solution to the problem of donkey exploitation on Santorini.
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