The Donkey Sanctuary and the Ghana Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (SPCA) has urged government to enforce the law banning the slaughter and export of donkey skins from the country.
The Donkey Sanctuary leadership is in the country leading efforts to draw global attention to the trade in donkey skins for the use in traditional Chinese remedies.
The law prohibiting the slaughter and export of donkey skins was passed at the beginning of the year.
On 17th January 2017, Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture authorised a ban on the slaughter and export of donkey skins from Ghana.
“Worrying evidence suggests that the law is not being enforced,” the Donkey Sanctuary said in a statement copied to the GNA on Monday.
It quoted Ghanaian authorities as saying: “The Veterinary Services Directorate has observed with alarm, a sharp increase in the number of donkeys being slaughtered on a daily basis especially in the northern parts of the country.
At this rate, the population is likely to be depleted within two to three years.”
“The Veterinary Services Directorate has therefore decided to ban with immediate effect, the indiscriminate slaughter of donkeys and the export of their skins. All Regional Veterinary Officers are to ensure that this directive is strictly complied with. Anybody caught in defying this directive will be strictly dealt with.”
The statement warned that “Both The Donkey Sanctuary and Ghana SPCA are of the view that if this law is not upheld, the welfare of donkeys and Ghana’s poorest citizens who rely on donkeys for farming activities and the transportation of goods (especially in rural areas) are going to be affected in a catastrophic way.”
“From evidence we have seen in recent days, donkeys are being slaughtered on a huge scale in northern Ghana for their skins. We have seen horrific evidence that the welfare of donkeys is compromised at all stages in the trade including transport, holding and slaughter.
“With only an estimated 14,500 donkeys in Ghana (according to FAOSTAT), even 100 donkeys being slaughtered per day would mean the entire population will be gone in six months”. Alex Mayers, Head of programmes, at The Donkey Sanctuary said.
“Imagine the devastation for the thousands of people who rely on donkeys for water, ploughing and rural transport.”
He further noted that “The unchecked free-flow of donkeys coming from neighbouring countries to fill the demand creates serious disease-transmission concerns and additional welfare challenges.
“We celebrate the forward-thinking, progressive and timely ban on the export of donkey skins, but more urgently more needs to be done to prevent the loss of the species, the spread of disease, and the loss of everything donkeys represent for rural Ghanaians.”
Amasaba Abdul-Yakeen Aluizah at Ghana SPCA said; “Having observed the unregulated slaughter of the donkeys in the Upper East region, we are much worried about the welfare issues, and consumers and handlers of the meat and skins are exposed to disease risk.
“There is mislabelling of donkey meat as bushmeat bagged in large quantities and transported to southern parts of Ghana. We are again worried that the rapid reduction in donkey population means the rising rate of the time-burden of rural women and reduction in land tillage by peasant farmers who rely on donkeys for farming.
“The value of the skin has introduced a new dimension of donkey poaching into these communities which is taking away the working animals from vulnerable people.”
The Donkey Sanctuary is leading efforts to draw world-wide attention to the trade in donkey skins for the use in traditional Chinese remedies.
There is an unsustainable rise in the slaughter of donkeys for the skin trade – largely due to growing demand for ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine which uses the gelatin found in donkey hides for products alleged to offer anti-ageing properties.
With skin supply unable to meet demand, criminal traders, including some linked to wildlife trafficking, have resorted to stealing working donkeys, and are selling their skins for premium prices to the ejiao industry.
The Donkey Sanctuary say criminal traders are also sourcing, transporting and slaughtering the domestic animals inhumanely, and causing devastation to the people who depend on them for their livelihood.