The African Union has supported a report calling for a total ban of trade in donkey skins to save the animals from extinction.
The report was adopted during the Specialised Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water, and Environment’s 5th Ordinary Session, which is made up of ministers and senior officials from member nations who are responsible for those portfolios in their respective countries.
The suggestions in the study will now be presented to the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments for consideration in February 2024.
The paper, titled ‘Donkeys in Africa Now and in the Future,’ was created by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) with assistance from the International Coalition for Working Equids (ICWE), which includes Brooke, The Donkey Sanctuary, SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad), and World Horse Welfare.
It emphasizes the worrisome decline of the African donkey population as a result of the donkey skin trade.
Hundreds of thousands of donkeys have been slaughtered and exported for their skins in the last decade.
Driven by Chinese demand for traditional Chinese medicine, the trade has had a negative influence on both the total donkey population in Africa and the livelihoods of people who rely on them.
It highlights the alarming decline of the donkey population within Africa due to the donkey skin trade.Over the last decade, hundreds of thousands of donkeys have been slaughtered for their skins and exported.
Driven by demand from China for traditional Chinese medicine, the trade has had a detrimental impact on both the overall donkey population in Africa and the livelihoods of those who depend on them.
According to Dr. Raphael Kinoti, Regional Director of Brooke East Africa, this is so important for communities in Africa and their donkeys, which suffer untold cruelty driven by this insatiable demand for their skins.
He is delighted to ensure that the Committee recognizes the socio-economic contribution of the donkey to livelihoods in Africa and hopes every African country will respect this decision and stop this trade to preserve this critical natural heritage and the livelihoods that it supports.
Dr. Otieno Mtula, Regional Campaigns and Advocacy Manager (Africa) for The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “The adoption of this report at the special technical committee session of the African Union last week is a critical and significant milestone on the way to protecting Africa’s donkey populations and the communities that rely on them.
That it will be considered by the Executive Council of the African Union in February next year is testament not just to the urgency of the issue but also to the collaborative efforts of all those who have worked tirelessly to bring it to the fore.
The decision taken at the special technical committee session last week gives us confidence that the Executive Council of the African Union will recognize the economic, humanitarian, and welfare threat posed by the donkey skin trade, as well as the contribution donkeys make to sustainable economic growth, by committing to a pan-African strategy and a moratorium on the slaughter of donkeys for their skins.”
Linda Edwards, Chief Executive of SPANA, said: “This is a critical step towards ending the horrific donkey skin trade across Africa.
It is very encouraging that the Committee’s recommendations for a moratorium are progressing, and we are hopeful that this will lead to a permanent end to the trade, which is having a devastating impact on working donkeys and the communities whose livelihoods they support.” Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Chief Executive, said: “Donkeys play a vital role in communities and livelihoods around the world, including in Africa, so we welcome the African Union’s proposal to further include donkeys in national animal resource development policies and plans.
Any trade in donkeys needs to be sustainable and enforceable, and too often clamping down in one country or region leads to the problem of moving across borders.
So it is positive that African leaders agree they need a common position on donkeys and a moratorium on their slaughter for skins so they can determine whether the trade is sustainable and in the continent’s interests.
In presenting the report, AU-IBAR hosted a side event during the session with support from ICWE.
It was attended by ministers from Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Somalia, and Uganda, as well as representatives from Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tanzania.
The report was formed as part of the 2022 Pan African Donkey Conference in.