African donkeys slaughtered for Chinese medicine; The popular Chinese drama behind the increased demand

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A popular period drama on Chinese television, “Empresses in the Palace” has contributed to the theft and brutal slaughter of millions of donkeys in Africa. It all started when fans of the show saw the aristocratic characters using a traditional Chinese medicine called “ejiao”, which is made from donkey skin, said Simon Pope, who works for UK charity The Donkey. Sanctuary, as the news agency reported. IANS.
“Everything was happening at the (Chinese) imperial court and at a certain time of the day the ladies of the court would all say, ‘Let’s have some eijao,'” following this program, ejiao’s request literally went through the roof,” he said of the show’s first broadcast in 2011. Pope said Ejiao, also called donkey glue, is used as medicine or as a tonic for the health and beauty in China, reported IANS.

However, China does not have enough donkeys to meet the demand which leads them to seek sources abroad and find them, especially in Africa where they are used as beasts of burden by rural communities in the Mali to Zimbabwe via Tanzania. When locals refused to sell, the theft of their cattle began, with distressed farmers finding their precious donkeys skinned and left to rot in the fields, reports IANS.

China needs about 5 million donkeys a year to produce and meet the demand for ejiao, and about 2 million of them come from the country’s own animal population, with the remaining 3 million or more come from abroad, the Donkey Sanctuary estimates that between 25 percent and 35 percent are stolen, reported IANS.

Presently. Several years after the trade began, donkey populations are declining and many African countries are fighting back. Tanzania has banned the slaughter of donkeys for the skin trade, saying the country’s donkey population was at risk of extinction last month. Other African countries, including Nigeria, have also banned the slaughter of donkeys or the export of the animal.

“I think the message that goes to China, from Africa in particular, is that our donkeys are too valuable an asset to have them skinned and shipped to China to be made into medicine. Our donkeys are not for sale,” Pope said. , as reported by IANS.

However, he noted that due to China’s economic weight in the mainland and massive investment in infrastructure, other countries are unable to push back trade.

South Africa allows the slaughter of donkeys but only in two approved slaughterhouses and with a quota of 12,000 per year. Today, South African donkeys are smuggled into Lesotho, a small mountainous kingdom that surrounds the country.

“We don’t know exactly what the connection is and how they’re getting it out, maybe easier out of Lesotho,” said Grace de Lange, inspector for the National Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) Council. in southern Africa, as reported by the IANS.

“We have had meetings with (the) government of Lesotho and they are also investigating… This is going into the Chinese market,” she said, adding that authorities had also intercepted skins in warehouses and at the warehouse. ‘airport. time local criminals have been prosecuted after being arrested for transporting the animals, the Chinese who run the big syndicates are generally harder to catch, reported IANS.