Why are Donkeys vanishing from the streets of India and Pakistan? Donkeys are highly prized in China, especially for their hide which is used to manufacture traditional Chinese medicine and both India and Pakistan seem to be fulfilling the demand.
Gelatin made from donkey skin has been long considered to have medicinal properties in China, traditionally believed to nourish the blood, improve the immune system and even prolong one’s life.
The most famous variety donkey gelatin, named “ejiao,” with the price surging up to $800 per kg according to the National Business Daily. About 4 million donkeys are slaughtered each year to produce ‘ejiao’.
The Chinese use ‘ejiao’ for different types of illnesses. An amount of 5 to 10 grams may be dissolved in hot water or wine and mixed with other ingredients in the traditional Chinese materia medica or taken alone. It is believed that donkey-hide gelatin treats a variety of conditions such as bleeding, dizziness, insomnia and a dry cough.
The 20th livestock census released a few months back in India has shown an exponential decrease in India’s donkey population. Between 2007 and 2012, India donkey population dropped by 23% and thereafter — from 2012 to 2019 — it further dropped by 61.23%, leaving just 120,000 donkeys in India.
Animal welfare organizations like Brooke India and others believe that the sharp decline in India’s donkey population is part of a global drop in their numbers as thousands of them are ruthlessly butchered, stolen and traded to China.
The report says that severe and often illegal transportation of donkeys by local traders is widespread, and many donkeys experience terrifying and reprehensible suffering. Sourcing is often indiscriminate, with mares in the late stages of pregnancy, young foals and sick and injured donkeys entering the trade.
In Pakistan, due to the heightened demand for hide in China over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of donkeys were illegally and brutally slaughtered across the country. While the hide was smuggled to China, donkey meat was sold in the market.
However, in a bid to boost the country’s exports, the Live Stock Department in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced that it will develop donkey farms for legally exporting them to China.
According to reports, two donkey farms were expected to be developed in Dera Ismail Khan and Mansehra with Chinese partnership.
With Inputs From Business Standard, Geo News & The Donkey Sanctuary