The results of a shocking investigation by The Donkey Sanctuary today reveals the devastating human impact of the growing demand for ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine made from donkey skin.

donkeysIn the first comprehensive study of the trade, the charity has discovered that donkey-dependent families and communities all round the world are finding their animals stolen and brutally slaughtered for their skins, with some reports this week suggesting animals are being skinned alive.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s ‘Under the Skin’ investigative report reveals that the trade has led to an explosion in the number of donkeys in Africa, Asia and South America being sourced, stolen and slaughtered for their skins which are then destined for China. In particular, illegal thefts have left entire donkey-dependent communities devastated and facing increased risk of poverty.

Mike Baker, CEO of The Donkey Sanctuary said: “Can you imagine what it must be like to wake up one morning and find that every car in your town or village has been stripped of its engine and wheels? No vehicles – no means of transport for you or anyone in your community. All those journeys we take for granted – the school run, getting to work every day, the food shop –suddenly becoming arduous or impossible tasks. Recently, in a rural community in Tanzania, this is exactly what happened – only the precious vehicles weren’t cars, but donkeys, stolen, killed and stripped of their skins overnight. A devastating blow for the community and a horrific way for these hard-working donkeys to die.

“Our report reveals the shocking scale of this global trade as it races to keep up with an ever-growing demand for the product. Donkey populations cannot continue to be decimated and communities must not be deprived of their only means of survival. Action must now be taken to curb this trade, in the interest of both animal and human welfare.”

The report also uncovers the impact the trade is having on the value of donkeys. In Egypt the cost of buying a donkey has risen tenfold, which makes it almost impossible for victims of donkey theft to afford a replacement.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s ‘Under the Skin’ report will now be used as the authoritative tool to champion donkeys and their welfare on a global scale and has the following recommendations it will act on:

– The Donkey Sanctuary calls for a halt to the trade in donkey skins to produce ejiao until the impact of the trade can be assessed and shown to be both humane for donkeys and sustainable for the communities that depend on them.

– In particular, The Donkey Sanctuary urges other countries affected by this trade to follow the lead taken by Burkina Faso and Niger and ban the slaughter and export of donkeys for their skins.

– The Donkey Sanctuary urges governments and the industry to join us in raising public awareness about the impact of this trade so that ejiao consumers can make an informed choice.

– The Donkey Sanctuary calls on governments and local authorities to join efforts to support affected communities, protecting them from the illegal trade and preventing the decimation of donkeys through the legal trade.

Concerned members of the public can act now by supporting The Donkey Sanctuary’s recommendations. Go to to find out more and read the full report.

Source: The Donkey Sanctuary