Have you ever thought that Donkey skin is linked to illegal wildlife trade? Well, when we speak of endangered species and its trade illegal trades, we have never thought of donkey skin trade. But it is a reality that donkey skin is illegally traded.
Although domestic donkeys themselves are not a CITES listed species, their unprecedented, unregulated and unsustainable trade is acting as a convenient and lucrative Trojan horse for the illegal wildlife Trade, said the report — The Donkey Sanctuary’s Under the skin. The report funded by The Donkey Sanctuarycites the findings of a research paper by an interdisciplinary team from Oxford University’s Said Business School and Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU)
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
The trade of donkey skins is largely driven by demand for E Jiao, a traditional Chinese medicine, which uses gelatine from donkey skins. As increasing demand has outstripped the Chinese domestic supply of donkeys, E-Jiao producers have looked to international markets for skins. It is estimated that over 4.8 million donkeys are trafficked and slaughtered for their skins each year. The donkeys suffer at every point of this process. From source to slaughter brutal and inhumane conditions are a hallmark of the industry. Even the most vulnerable donkeys, including pregnant mares, young foals, and the sick and injured, are taken and traded without consideration for their welfare or their suffering the report said.
The researchers identified 382 traders who sold donkey skins on large B2B eCommerce websites. They then analysed the full basket of goods that each trader offered for sale, creating a dataset of almost 15,000 product offerings – including wildlife products – making a clear link between the trade in donkey skins and the wildlife trade. The report noted that illicit trade extends beyond eCommerce sites to well-known social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It also mentioned that few B2B or social media sites have policies to prevent donkey skin traders from taking advantage of their sites or even removing the traders who have existing pages.
Dr Ewan Macdonald, postdoctoral research Fellow at Said Business School and co-author says: “We found almost 20 percent of donkey skin traders operating online also sell some form of wildlife product, including species of conservation concern such as elephant ivory, pangolin scales and big cat parts.”
IMPACTS ON COMMUNITIES
Many donkeys slaughtered for the eligo trade are stolen from families who rely on them for their livelihoods, with devastating consequences for their economic prospects.
Up to ten million communities in lower-income countries rely on working donkeys. Where donkeys are stolen, it almost always falls to women and girls to pick up the donkey work left behind, denying many girls the opportunity to continue their education.
The Governments of China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam should immediately suspend the import of donkey skins. National governments of exporting countries should take immediate steps to stop the trade in donkey skins Identify and prevent or remove advertisements for donkey skins.