World's donkeys being 'decimated' by demand for Chinese medicine
Half the world’s donkey population could be wiped out in the next five years, as millions are slaughtered for their hides to meet rising demand for a traditional Chinese medicine.
It is estimated that 4.8m donkey hides a year are needed to satisfy demand for a gelatin-based traditional medicine called ejiao, according to a new report from the Donkey Sanctuary. At the current pace, the global donkey population of 44m would be halved over the next five years, the report warns.
Donkey populations in Brazil have declined by 28% since 2007, by 37% in Botswana and by 53% in Kyrgyzstan, and there are fears the populations in Kenya and Ghana could also be decimated by the skin trade.
The report reveals how donkeys – many stolen from communities who rely on the animals for their livelihoods – are transported on long journeys without access to food or water, with up to 20% dying on route.
It said broken legs were commonplace, with sightings of severed hooves and lower legs on the ground at offloading sites, and donkeys are often dragged by their ears and tails.