Equine welfare activists call for 15-year ban on donkey slaughter in Africa to curb unsustainable exploitation
TANZANIA – Equine welfare charity group, The Donkey Sanctuary, has led other delegates and stakeholders from across Africa to discuss the future of donkeys on the continent.
The gathering which took place in Tanzania for the inaugural AU-IBAR Pan-African Donkey Conference, led to the drafting of a declaration – the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Donkeys in Africa Now and in the Future – recognising the socio-economic importance of donkeys in Africa and express deep concern about the unsustainable use and exploitation of the donkey.
The move is aimed to curb the unsustainable exploitation and protect donkey populations within Africa, calling on the African Union Congress to propose a 15-year moratorium (ban) on the slaughter of donkeys for export of skins and other donkey related products.
Additionally, the Declaration highlights the alarm felt at the rapid decline of donkey populations due to demand for ejiao, a traditional Chinese remedy derived from donkey gelatine that is believed to have health properties.
Studies by the world’s largest equine welfare charity, The Donkey Sanctuary, found the ejiao industry is a significant driver behind the nearly 5 million donkeys slaughtered globally every year.
Representatives from The Donkey Sanctuary backed their motion highlighting findings from three recent reports into the donkey skin trade, including the first two reports in the Global Trade in Donkey Skins: A Ticking Time Bomb series.
The first – The Donkey Skin Trade as a Trojan Horse for Wildlife Trafficking – identified an irrefutable link between the trade in donkey skins and the trade in other illegal wildlife products, and the second – Biosecurity Risks and Implications for Human and Animal Health on a Global Scale – detailed the significant risk of zoonotic disease posed by the trade.
The third report – Myths or Money? Challenges and Limitations of Donkey Farming – further outlined the unsustainable nature of farming donkeys for skins.
Janneke Merkx, Tactical Response Officer at The Donkey Sanctuary commented, “Donkeys are in crisis in Africa, and The Donkey Sanctuary fully supports the recommendations outlined in the Dar es Salaam Declaration.
“A 15-year moratorium on the slaughter of donkeys for their skins is exactly the type of decisive action that must be taken if we are to protect donkey populations on the African continent and protect the communities and livelihoods that depend on them.”
Further requests made of the African Union Congress by the Declaration include developing policies, strategies, programs and legislation on donkey exploitation at national and regional levels and to accelerate efforts to mobilise resources for a coordinated program on the development of the donkey and equids resources for increased production and productivity.
In addition, they requested the AUC, through AU-IBAR, to bring the resolution on donkeys and other equids’ development, for inclusion in the continental (AU) and global development agenda (UN) to the next STC meeting in 2023.
The parties also urged the AU-MS to invest in increased awareness and the generation of compelling evidence about the socio-economic importance and contribution of donkeys to the GDP of AU Member States.
To make the initiative a reality, The Donkey Sanctuary called for support from not only the AU Commission, but also AUDA-NEPAD, RECs, AU Member State, FAO, WOAH, Animal Welfare Organisations, Development Agencies and other stakeholders.