9 December 2021

Donkey skin trade in Latin America: Recommendations for a growing problem

Brooke Latin America and Caribbean's Ariel Morales discusses the growing impact of the skin trade on the region's donkey population.

Did you know the donkey population is decreasing at an incredibly fast rate?

The donkey is at risk of becoming extinct in as little as four years as a result of the global trade in donkey skins, according to experts like Pierre Escodro, Lead Researcher in the Donkey Skin Trade at UFAL University, Brazil. 

The trade supplies companies in China with the gelatin that is used to make ejiao, a traditional medicine. While Brooke has been advocating to ban the trade in several African countries, we have detected four hotspots in Latin America where donkey slaughter is growing: Mexico, Brazil, Columbia and Peru. 

Altogether, these countries add up to a gigantic industry. According to Katia Abreu, Minister of Agriculture in Brazil, there is a trade agreement with China for donkey meat and hides which generates $3 BN USD every year.

Donkeys that fall victim to the trade are treated in a cruel way and subjected to poor welfare standards. They are transported in confined trucks for long distances of 1,000km to be slaughtered, many times in terrible conditions.

We are calling for a ban on the trade in donkey skins. But we are facing two main challenges: gathering data specific to the region on the donkey skin trade issue, and raising awareness among key decision makers who have the power to enforce regulations and laws that protect donkeys and their owners. 

Brooke Latin America and the Caribbean (BLAC) is working to create partnerships and strategic alliances to increase evidence on the trade and mobilise resources to protect donkeys and their owners across Latin America. We recently launched a policy brief on the state of the trade in the region, which includes recommendations for governments and NGOs. 

We are partnering with key organisations to prevent the theft and slaughter of donkeys. Our sister organisation, Brooke USA, has raised awareness of the issue at the Córdoba University in Columbia and petitioned Amazon to remove the ejiao product from its platforms. 

Read our policy brief to see our full recommendations. Contact us if your organisation is interested in partnering with us to combat this escalating problem.