The high demand for donkeys in China has raised the price of this animal in Africa. A number of slaughter houses have come up in African countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal for the last few years to cater to the demand of China.
In China demand of donkey is high for their skins, where they are used to make health foods and traditional medicines. Donkey meat is also a popular food, but a huge drop in the number of Chinese donkeys and the fact they are slow to reproduce, has forced suppliers to look elsewhere.
And China looks up to African countries for the steady supply of donkeys. Africa has been badly hit because the animals are such an important part of life for transport and farming – particularly in poorer communities.
In African countries gang of thieves are on the prowl to steal domestic donkeys and sell them to slaughter houses.
Water deliveryman Anthony Maupe Wanyama, 29, from Kenya had bought a donkey four years ago for cultivation. One night thieves stole the donkey. “I woke up one morning and Carlos was missing. I looked around the area, and then found him dead, his skin had been removed,” said Anthony, tears rolling down his cheeks as he talked about his much-loved animal.
“Now I don’t have enough money. I haven’t paid my rent, I haven’t paid school fees, and I have people who depend on me,” Anthony said.
The surge in price and demand in Kenya has been encouraged by three donkey abattoirs, which have opened across the country.
They can each slaughter around 150 animals a day, packing and freezing the meat and salting the skins for export.
When the skins are boiled, they produce a brown gelatine, which is the essential ingredient in Chinese “ejiao” products – popular health foods and traditional medicines. But the way donkeys are being treated has been criticised by the animal rights group.
In the face of protest and criticism, Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal have banned China from buying their donkey products.