Tigers, sharks, pangolins and now donkeys as Chinese demand for traditional medicine flourishes

Donkey cart - Image Nowaczyk / Shutterstock.com

Chinese demand for animal products has a new target donkeys, with demand for the lowly beast on the rise again as ancient health products become popular once again.

A report by EWN The Conversation on Wednesday, February 8 found that the demand has led to a shortage of donkeys in China. That has in turn led traders to look elsewhere for supplies and Africa is said to be bearing the brunt of the demand.

Donkeys are a common sight in many African countries, being used by the continent´s poor for transport.

But they cannot compete with the high prices being paid in China with the hides of the animal used to make ejiao, which is made from collagen extracted from the skin. That in turn is mixed with other ingredients and herbs to make remedies the Chinese believe strengthen the blood, improve vital body fluids and helps with sleep.

The market for Ejiao is said to be worth around $3 billion annually with doctors able to prescribe the product, which it is said has become more popular due to a television series about the aged.

Africa is home to around two-thirds of the world´s 50-plus million donkeys. Figures are not readily available but statistics from South Africa suggest the population is dwindling.

As always where there is poverty, those with money take advantage and that it is said has led to a growth in the illicit donkey trade. It is also an industry where there is little regulation and that spells disaster not only for the donkey but also those that rely on the animals.

Research conducted into the trade by The Conversation shows that around 158 million people are reliant on donkeys, which cope well with challenging conditions.

But despite their reliance on and value to local communities, they are said to be slaughtered in large numbers and under the cruellest circumstances to feed the Chinese habit.

You can read the full report here.

Animal activists are now calling on Governments to put an end to the trade in donkeys as Chinese demand grows, hurting the poorest in Africa.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.