• African donkey hides are in an all time low because of the surge of demand in China.

African donkey hides are in an all time low because of the surge of demand in China. (Photo : Getty Images)

A Chinese businessman engaged in donkey hide smuggling was arrested in Johannesburg. The Chinese national was trying to export 300 pieces of donkey hides and was a leader of a local donkey ring.

Donkey hide is in demand in China because it is used to manufacture “ejiao,” or a gelatin-based medicine used to treat anemia, heavy menstrual bleeding, and sleeplessness.

Like Us on Facebook

The price of the skin has increased to 2,000 yuan from 600 yuan because of the dwindling supply. Chinese donkeys have decreased greatly because of the surge in the demand.

China has been a part of many controversial issues on wildlife trade. Grace de Lange from the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) Farm Animal Protection Unit, said that the demand in China is propelling the increase in donkey prices in South Africa in the last two years.

She said that the prices have increased four times.

The NSPCA released a statement last year which noted, “Donkeys are the latest victims of the trade in animal parts ‘for medicinal purposes’ to the Far East.”

Cruelty to animals is illegal in Africa. Punishments for acts of cruelty are stated in South Africa’s Animal Protection Act.

Donkeys are being slaughtered with the use of rocks and knives in Limpopo, the Northern Cape, and North West Province, said Mpho Mokoena, an inspector in the NSPCA’s Farm Animal Protection Unit.

“It’s extremely upsetting to see the remains,” Mokoena said.

In efforts to stop the trade of donkey hide, online market site Gumtree banned the posting of ads for donkey hide sale.

"Gumtree has decided to ban the sale of all donkeys and mules on the site, not just the hides and by-products," the company said. “We hope that this will play a small part in reducing animal cruelty.”

A spokesperson from Gumtree South Africa, Claire Cobbledick said, “We decided that extreme measures would be necessary to prevent further unsavory practices.”