How Chinese Cash In on Donkey-Slaughter Business in Kenya

Donkeys reared at a ranch
Donkeys being reared at a ranch.

New details have emerged about how Chinese traders in the abattoir industry are cashing in from their trade while leaving tragedy in their wake.

Speaking to Radio France Internationale (RFI), a state-owned International Radio in France, Kenya Society for the Protection of Animals Naivasha Supervisor Raphael Ngome, raised the alarm noting that the Chinese had set up abattoirs for the trade.

The influx kicked off in March 2021 after lifting a ban on the slaughter of donkeys which had been in place in line with the Kenya Meat Act of 1999.

The Chinese abattoirs are often after the donkeys' hides whose materials are used to manufacture beloved cosmetic products.

Some of the Ejiao product extracted from Donkey skin
Some of the Ejiao products extracted from Donkey skin.

In some instances, the donkeys provide a product called Ejiao - which is also known as donkey-hide glue used as an ingredient for remedies in China. it is often produced from the collagen extracted from donkey skin.

Ngome reckons that the number of abattoirs shot up in Naivasha which has led to a dwindling number of donkeys, an important animal used by locals as a means of transport and provision of labour.

“After the introduction of abattoirs, the number of donkeys went down and also theft among donkey owners and users in these towns escalated.

“The main product we have heard is the donkey skin which is used to make cosmetics...and there’s also another Chinese product called Ejao,” stated Ngome.

It is estimated that over 700,000 donkeys have disappeared in a period of four years catapulted by the lifting of the slaughter ban on them.

The latest available statistics by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) also indicated that in the span of 10 years between 2009 and 2019, the overall population of donkeys declined from 1.8 million to 1.17 million.

While lifting the ban in 2021, the High Court, approved donkeys' slaughter for both meat and its hide was to be used for medicinal values in the Chinese Market.

High demand for the product has led to an extreme reduction in the donkey population, mostly in China, hence forcing Asian countries to look elsewhere to meet their needs.

The donkey skin trade, which is banned in several countries among them Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Ghana, still thrives on social media.

Globally, over 4.8 million donkeys die every year to enable the skin trade with many of the donkeys believed to be as a result of theft.

Undated file image of a gavel on the bench in the courtroom
File image of a gavel on the bench in the courtroom