Donkey lying down

Across Africa, millions of donkeys are at risk due to the growing demand for ‘ejiao’, a product made from donkey skins used in traditional Chinese medicine and cosmetics.

Demand in China is exploding for donkey skins used in traditional medicine and cosmetics

However, our research reveals that people in the UK are largely unaware of the dangers that donkeys are facing. Only 5 per cent believe that the animal is at risk of population decline, whereas animals such as elephants (54 per cent) and tigers (52 per cent) are acknowledged to be at risk of deterioration.

Only 5 per cent thought donkeys were at risk of population decline

With increasing affluence and an ageing population, demand for ejiao in China has increased rapidly and led to a dramatic fall in the country’s donkey population. Ejiao manufacturers have now begun to look to Africa to meet the growing demand for donkey skins, although 88 per cent of people in the UK are not aware that donkey skins are being exported to China from Africa for use in traditional Chinese medicine and cosmetics.

African donkeys are being slaughtered at a dramatic rate to meet Chinese demand

Across Africa, millions of donkeys are used by some of the world’s poorest communities in place of motorised transport. Working animals like these are essential to the livelihoods of around 600 million of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people.

The price of donkey hides has risen eight to 10 fold in the past years in some countries, making donkey ownership unaffordable for many and devastating communities. However, our research shows that only 2 per cent of people in the UK realise that the price of donkey skins is on the rise.

Only 2 per cent realised that donkey skin prices were increasing

Geoffrey Dennis, Chief Executive of SPANA, has seen for himself the impact of the ejiao trade across Africa and is leading a campaign to halt the export of donkey skins:

“From Mali to Zimbabwe, I’ve seen the devastation caused by this brutal trade, which is destroying livelihoods, undermining communities and leading to the slaughter of countless animals that are often kept in hellish conditions.

“600 million of the world’s poorest people rely on working animals for their livelihoods – yet this trade, driven by luxury consumer demand, threatens to dramatically reduce or wipe out all donkeys in many communities across Africa within the next decade.”

Working alongside international and local NGOs, SPANA is calling for an immediate halt to the ejiao trade while its impact is assessed.

Africa's working donkey population is at risk of extinction

Find out what SPANA is doing to help and how you can get involved.

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2 comments on “People in the UK are unaware of the dangers that donkeys are facing

  1. Mary Mitchell on

    I refer to the above comment , whether we call it a trend or a tradition will make no difference as far as I can see. The Chinese seem to have a misguided notion ( obsession?) for consuming products , whether food or clothing or medicines derived from animal sources that will benefit their wellbeing. This notion is deadly not only to non-human animals but also to the human species itself as well as our planet that sustains us all here. TO change this attitude requires the combined resources and influence of all the animal welfare groups in the world, including, of course SPANA.

  2. Lisa Ong on

    I refer to the following quote in your article on Chinese demand for donkey hides : “… donkey skins are being exported to China from Africa for use in traditional Chinese medicine and cosmetics.” As I understand it, the use of donkey hide for medicinal purposes is a spin off from the obsession for collagen rich foods to boost skin elasticity and beauty. As such, calling this practice of using donkey skin a trend might be more accurate than calling it a tradition. Calling “ejiao” a tradition might unwittingly give those involved in the donkey skin trade more license to continue their exploitation of the animals and make the work of the donkey sympathisers even harder. Please consider using the word trend instead of tradition. Thank you.


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