A new report by The Donkey Sanctuary
has found that half the world's donkeys could be wiped out within the next five years amid rising demand for traditional Chinese medicine
. An estimated 4.8 million donkey hides are needed each year to satisfy demand for ejiao, a traditional gelatin-based medicine. Demand for it has already had a serious impact on donkey populations in several countries around the world.
As the following infographic shows, China's donkey population fell 59 percent between 1992 and 2017 while Kyrgyzstan's plummeted 53 percent in the six year period from 2011 to 2017. During the same time frame, Botswana saw a 37 percent drop in its donkey herds while the number of animals in Brazil declined 28 percent in the decade from 2007 to 2017.
The growing demand for donkey hides is expected to lead to serious problems, perhaps best summed up by the Ethiopian
proverb "if you don't have a donkey, you are the donkey". Millions of people worldwide rely on donkeys for their livelihoods and if the current rate of slaughter continues, the impact is likely to be catastrophic.
The report had a number of recommendations for the ejiao industry such as cutting links with the global skin trade and supporting national government efforts to protect their herds. It also recommends that the ejiao industry switches towards more sustainable products and that the Chinese government suspends the import of donkeys and their products so that an alternative solution can be found.