Donkeys being stolen for their skins

Thousands of donkeys are being stolen, abused and slaughtered to meet the demand for their hides.

Donkeys in kenya

There have been reports from many African countries of donkeys being stolen, horrifically mistreated and cruelly slaughtered to meet an increased demand from China for their hides. The hides are used in the production of 'ejiao' for traditional Chinese medicine. Brooke is deeply concerned about the welfare of donkeys in the holding, slaughter and transport stages of this market.

Overwhelming demand is also impoverishing poor African families who rely on the labour of these animals to earn a living. Substantial loss of earnings and extreme price inflation of donkeys mean that many people cannot afford to replace their animal, causing them to backslide into poverty.

Devastating consquences

The rapidly evolving relationship between China and Africa has attractive benefits to investors. However, there are devastating unintended consequences. Consideration must be given to the needs of poor people and their essential livestock.

Irrespective of whether or not people agree with the use of donkey products, it is vital that the welfare of the donkeys involved is properly addressed. International Brooke teams are working together and collaborating with governments and other stakeholders to tackle this issue.

We are also very concerned about the increased possibility of Pakistan starting exports of donkey hides to China, following reported meetings between the livestock department in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Chinese companies. If trade starts without adequate attention given to animal welfare, there could be serious welfare risks in the holding, slaughter and transport of thousands of donkeys similar to those we have witnessed across Africa. We are also concerned that the long-term detrimental implications on the livelihoods of equine owning communities are not fully understood. We are working hard to address this at both community, regional and government level.

Taking action

  • We are working with national governments and donkey owning communities as they struggle to protect the welfare of their animals and people’s livelihoods in the face of this growing problem.
  • There is currently an official ban on donkey hide trade across Pakistan, and our in-country team is in talks with the government, advocating strongly to keep this ban, and for the welfare of working donkeys.

Help Brooke reach more animals in need

Advocating for better welfare

Brooke champions the essential role of donkeys in poor people’s livelihoods. In October 2016, our Advocacy team succeeded in ensuring the contributions of working animals to food security and nutrition were officially recognised in livestock recommendations formally endorsed by the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

We also made a submission to the CFS High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) after they called a public enquiry looking at Critical and Emerging Issues for Food Security and Nutrition. Our submission highlighted the impact that declining donkey populations and donkey theft due to the donkey skin trade is having on how people access and afford food. It has now been published in the results of the enquiry, and we're pleased to see it acknowledged and incorporated into the findings of the enquiry within the wider topic of Trade. 

Read more about Brooke's advocacy and policy work

Brooke news stories

Brooke is deeply concerned about donkeys being stolen and abused for their hides.

Around 400 donkeys in Kenya are being killed for their skins every day. Many are stolen from their owners at night, and their hide is shipped off to be used for traditional remedies overseas.

Brooke hosts inter-organisational meeting to discuss ways to reduce demand for donkey hide.