The increase in Chinese demands for African animals threatens the population of African wildlife. In recent times, attention has shifted from Pangolins and Rhinos, to Donkeys.
Due to the high demand for donkeys by the Chinese, poachers have increased their hunting of the animal. The high demand for the animal has seen the population o donkeys reduce drastically in Burkina Fas and Kenya. Now, the population of donkeys in South Africa is under huge threat.
The decline in the population of donkeys is affecting local businesses in no small way, as producers and traders who depend on donkey milk to produce soaps and creams continue to cry out.
Donkeys are in high demand in China, and reports indicate that the product extracted from one donkey can sell for as much as $360 in the Asian country.
Speaking on the development, Jesse Christelis, who is the Co-owner of Donkey Dairy, said: “In South Africa, we have seen a rapid decline of the donkey population due to illegal slaughter to supply the Chinese skin trade.
“It is believed that in China, if you eat the donkey skin, that’s boiled in a certain way, it has certain health benefits, very similar to what they believe, health benefits that are found in rhino horn.”
Once prized by emperors, a gelatin called ejiao, which is made from donkey skin, is increasingly sought after by China’s middle class.
Also, the health benefits are believed to be similar to products derived from rhino horns, from working as a blood thinner to acting as an aphrodisiac, placing it in high demand on the market.
The shrinking supply has sent prices soaring. According to Christelis, a donkey would fetch about $30 at auction five years ago. Now they cost about $125 each.
That is still a relative bargain in China, where donkey hides that sold for $473 in 2018 now sell for $1,160.
“We’ve seen, you know, a rapid increase in price of donkeys as well since the trade of donkey skins hit South Africa, whereas prices were quite low about five years ago, they’ve gone up almost five, sixfold.
“And often the donkeys that we do find are not in good condition, weight is down, or there is a high parasite load.” added Christelis.
South Africa legally exports about 10,500 donkey hides to China every year, but the actual quantity is believed much higher as smugglers have tapped into the trade.
In the past that Nigeria placed a ban on the export of donkeys in 2018. The decision was made after the authorities noticed that the Chinese demand for an animal made the price soar and unaffordable for locals.
What are your thoughts? Do you think South Africa should legalize the trade and make it a proper revenue channel?