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World Donkey Day throws spotlight on catastrophic donkey threat

Local traders are killing millions of donkeys every year so their skins can be used as an ingredient in a traditional Chinese medicine

11 May 2021, at 9:00am

This World Donkey Day (Saturday 8 May), international animal welfare charity The Donkey Sanctuary joined forces with the World Veterinary Association to highlight the skin trade, the most serious threat donkeys have ever faced.

Local traders are killing millions of donkeys every year so their skins can be used as an ingredient in a traditional Chinese medicine – ejiao.

Donkey populations are collapsing in some countries as demand for ejiao has led to unsustainable numbers of donkeys being slaughtered.

An exclusive video produced by the World Veterinary Association, with The Donkey Sanctuary, reveals the appalling suffering donkeys are facing as a result of the trade. The video will be released by the World Veterinary Association on World Donkey Day via their website.

The video, Africa’s disappearing donkeys – The illegal trade in donkey skins also focuses on the devastating impact of the trade on the livelihoods of millions of people in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities who rely on these hardworking animals.

Over the last five years, The Donkey Sanctuary has been disrupting the trade to protect as many donkeys as possible from being sold, trafficked or stolen to be slaughtered.

The charity also supports donkey-dependent communities with initiatives to protect their working donkeys, as well as campaigning for legislative change in countries to ban the slaughter of donkeys and to stop the trade in their skins.

The Donkey Sanctuary has formed new alliances at the United Nations to show how crucial working donkeys are to a sustainable world. It has also been engaging constructively within China on promoting non-donkey skin alternatives for use in the production of ejiao and working to improve farmed donkey welfare within the country.

In an interview to support the film, Mike Baker, CEO of The Donkey Sanctuary, calls on the ejiao industry to look for more humane ways to manufacture its products.

Mike Baker said: “We are the driving force behind global opposition to the skin trade and believe that no donkey or person should suffer in the name of ejiao production.

“World Donkey Day is a time to celebrate these incredible and hardworking animals. They support the livelihoods of over 500 million people around the world; they deserve to be celebrated and given our thanks. They do not deserve to be caught up in this inhumane trade.”

Africa’s disappearing donkeys – The illegal trade in donkey skins can be viewed via The Donkey Sanctuary and WVA‘s websites from Saturday 8 May 2021.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation.