Delegates from across the African Union gathered in Dar es Salaam for the first AU-IBAR Pan-African Donkey Conference to discuss the future of donkeys on the continent and the need for a 15-year ban on slaughtering of donkeys.
Tactical Response Officer at The Donkey Sanctuary, Ms. Janneke Merkx said on Thursday: “Donkeys are in crisis in Africa and the Donkey Sanctuary fully supports the recommendations outlined in the Dar es Salaam Declaration”.
Merkx said that a 15-year moratorium on the slaughter of donkeys for their skins was exactly the type of decisive action that must be taken to protect donkey populations on the continent and protect the communities and livelihoods that depend on them.
“Further requests made of the African Union Congress by the declaration include developing policies, strategies, programmes and legislation on donkey exploitation at national and regional levels and to accelerate efforts to mobilise resources for a coordinated programme on the development of the donkey and equids resources,” she said.
She reasoned that the resulting declaration, known as the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Donkeys in Africa Now and in the Future, recognises the socio-economic importance of donkeys in Africa and expresses deep concern about the unsustainable use and exploitation of the donkey as a species.
“To curb this unsustainable exploitation and to protect donkey populations within Africa, the delegates drafted a declaration, calling on the African Union Congress to propose a 15-year moratorium (ban) on the slaughter of donkeys for export of skins and other donkey-related products,” she said.
Also, she presented the findings of three recent reports into the donkey skin trade, including the first two reports in the ‘Global Trade in Donkey Skins: A Ticking Time Bomb’ series.
“The first, ‘The Donkey Skin Trade as a Trojan Horse for Wildlife Trafficking’, identified an irrefutable link between the trade in donkey skins and the trade in other illegal wildlife products.
“The second, ‘Biosecurity Risks and Implications for Human and Animal Health on a Global Scale’, detailed the significant risk of zoonotic diseases posed by the trade.
Science Nigeria reports that the declaration additionally highlighted the alarm caused by the rapid decline of donkey populations, due to demand for ‘ejiao’, a traditional Chinese remedy derived from donkey gelatine that is believed to have health properties.
Studies by the world’s largest equine welfare charity, The Donkey Sanctuary, found the ‘ejiao’ industry is a significant driver reason for the nearly five million donkeys slaughtered globally every year.