African Union proposal for moratorium on horrifying donkey skin trade welcomed by ICWE
A report calling for a moratorium on the donkey skin trade has received the endorsement of the African Union. The report was approved at the 5th Ordinary Session of the Specialised Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment, which is composed of ministers and senior officials of member states responsible for those portfolios in their respective countries. The report’s recommendations will now be put forward to the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments for adoption in February 2024.
The report, ‘Donkeys in Africa Now and In The Future’, was produced by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) with support from the International Coalition for Working Equids (ICWE), made up of Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) and World Horse Welfare. It highlights the alarming decline of the donkey population within Africa due to the donkey skin trade.
Over the last decade, hundreds of thousands of donkeys have been slaughtered for their skins and exported. Driven by demand from China for the Traditional Chinese medicine, the trade has had a detrimental impact on both the overall donkey population in Africa and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.
Dr Raphael Kinoti, Regional Director of Brooke East Africa, said: “This is so important for communities in Africa and their donkeys which suffer untold cruelty driven by this insatiable demand for their skins. We are delighted that the Committee recognised the socio-economic contribution of the donkey to livelihoods in Africa and hope every African country will respect this decision and stop this trade to preserve this critical natural heritage and the livelihoods that it supports.”
Dr Otieno Mtula, Regional Campaigns and Advocacy Manager (Africa) for The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “The adoption of this report at the special technical committee session of the African Union last week is a critical and significant milestone on the way to protecting Africa’s donkey populations and the communities that rely on them. That it will be considered by the Executive Council of the African Union in February next year is testament not just to the urgency of the issue, but also the collaborative efforts of all those who have worked tirelessly to bring it to the fore.
The decision taken at the special technical committee session last week gives us confidence that the Executive Council of the African Union will recognize the economic, humanitarian and welfare threat posed by the donkey skin trade, as well as the contribution donkeys make to sustainable economic growth, by committing to a pan-African strategy and a moratorium on the slaughter of donkeys for their skins.”
Linda Edwards, Chief Executive of SPANA, said: “This is a critical step towards ending the horrific donkey skin trade across Africa. It is very encouraging that the Committee’s recommendations for a moratorium are progressing, and we are hopeful that this will lead to a permanent end to the trade, which is having a devastating impact on working donkeys and the communities whose livelihoods they support.”
Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive said: “Donkeys play a vital role in communities and livelihoods around the world, including in Africa, so we welcome the African Union’s proposal to further include donkeys in national animal resource development policies and plans. Any trade in donkeys needs to be sustainable and enforceable, and too often clamping down in one country or region leads to the problem moving across borders. So it is positive that African leaders agree they need a common position on donkeys and a moratorium on their slaughter for skins so they can determine whether the trade is sustainable and in the continent’s interests.”
In presenting the report, AU-IBAR hosted a side event during the Session with support from ICWE. It was attended by ministers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Somalia and Uganda, as well as representatives from Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.
The report was formed as part of the 2022 Pan African Donkey Conference in Tanzania, which was hosted by AU-IBAR, with support from both Brooke as the secretariat and ICWE. Here, government ministers from a number of African countries signed the historic Dar es Salaam declaration, which urged the African Union Commission to install a continental ban on the donkey skin trade for at least 15 years.
The 5th Ordinary Session of the STC on ARDWE took place on 14-17 November 2023 at the African Union Head Quarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Delegates from the following Member States participated in the STC: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central Africa Republic, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Liberia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Saharawi Republic, Zambia and Zimbabwe.