18 February 2024

African Union bans devastating donkey skin trade

The African Union has opted to ban the donkey skin trade after years of tireless lobbying by Brooke, signalling an end to the legal slaughter of hundreds of thousands of donkeys within the continent. 

Over the last decade, Africa has seen its donkey population decimated due to Chinese demand for ejiao, a gelatin used in Traditional Chinese Medicine that is made from boiling down donkey skins. Believed to have unsubstantiated health benefits, demand for ejiao has obliterated China’s own donkey population, leading to huge export industries elsewhere – namely Africa and South America.

On 17-18th February, African Union Heads of State met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 37th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly to ratify a number of motions including the ban, which was proposed by the Specialised Technical Committee for Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment in November last year.

The proposal cited a report, Donkeys in Africa Now and In The Future, produced by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) with support from Brooke, which highlighted the alarming decline of the donkey population within Africa and the devastating impact on livelihoods due to the trade.

This is a terrific moment for communities in Africa who have benefitted from donkeys since time immemorial. It is also a great moment for donkeys all over the world and for indigenous African biodiversity conservation. Donkey slaughter for its skin has had many negatives; from eroding livelihoods in Africa to robbing the continent of its culture, biodiversity and identity. We must all applaud AU heads of states for taking these bold and drastic measures for a good cause. We urge all AU members to uphold the decision for the good of all.

Dr Raphael Kinoti, Regional Director, Brooke East Africa

This is a historic moment. Even if it is not the war that we have just won, we have at least won this African battle which, I hope, will one day be global. I will be proud to tell my children that I witnessed and contributed to this moment.

Emmanuel Sarr, Regional Representative, Brooke West Africa

Brooke has played a vital role in pushing for this ban, thanks to tireless lobbying of government ministers and strong work in mobilising equine owning communities. In November 2022, Brooke was secretariat of the Pan African Donkey Conference in Tanzania, where ministers signed the historic Dar es Salaam declaration, which kick started Union discussions to ban the trade. 

Looking ahead, Brooke will work with governments and policy makers to advocate for the enforcement of the ban and call for a global ban to protect donkeys around the world from this horrifying trade.