The booming demand for donkey skins fuelled by an obsession with a traditional Chinese medicine named ejiao, which too many people believe helps everything from impotence to cancer, is causing a global outcry. Not only does it have a devastating effect on donkey populations in Africa and rural communities whose livelihoods depend on them, it also causes cruelty on a level we have never seen before.
As their value escalates, donkey populations worldwide are currently being decimated, so much so that five African states have no donkeys left, and the communities that depended on them are left without their lifeline.
This heartbreaking trade is already having devastating consequences with 1.8 million donkey skins traded for the ejiao market last year alone. Even worse, it is predicted that 5-10 million donkeys will be killed to fuel the trade every year, that’s almost one quarter of the present donkey population worldwide.
China is now looking to Australia as a new source of donkeys. The Northern Territory government is considering cashing in by farming donkeys to sell their skins to China. Donkeys are highly susceptible to stress and are unsuitable for farming. The Federal government has even considered sending live donkeys to China to be slaughtered there.
We need Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to know that the solution to the global donkey crisis is not to fuel the demand. The Australian government should prohibit the export of donkeys from Australia for commercial purposes, whether alive or dead. Turning feral animals into a commercial enterprise is foolish on so many levels and every effort is needed to explain the animal welfare problems to Chinese consumers and stop the demand.
Already fifteen countries have made a stand against the trade in order to protect their donkey populations and the local communities who depend on them. Any limited supply from Australia would do nothing to reduce international demand for donkeys falling on developing nations. An Australian supply of donkey skins would simply undermine the bans already put in place by other nations.
TAKE ACTION and tell Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud to prohibit the export of donkeys for traditional medicine. Whether they are feral or farmed, donkeys must not be cruelly exploited for a dubious medicine.