Botswana bans ex­port of don­key prod­ucts

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

GABORONE, Botswana: Botswana’s gov­ern­ment has moved to crack down on the multi-bil­lion dol­lar trade in don­key skins fol­low­ing a spate of killings of the an­i­mals across the coun­try fu­elled by soar­ing de­mand from China. Ex­port li­censes for don­keys and their prod­ucts have been sus­pended in­def­i­nitely, the Min­istry of Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment and Food Se­cu­rity said in a state­ment late on Wed­nes­day. Many thou­sands of don­keys have been slaugh­tered in Botswana and in other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in re­cent years and their skins sold to China for use in tra­di­tional medicine.

Don­keys are be­ing killed in grow­ing num­bers to feed de­mand from China where the skins are used to make a nat­u­ral medicine be­lieved to be a sex­ual stim­u­lant with an­ti­age­ing prop­er­ties. Hooves also con­tain the sup­pos­edly medic­i­nal gelatin, while the meat, con­sumed in parts of China, is be­lieved to be more nu­tri­tious than beef and is en­joyed in burg­ers and stews. Botswana is the sixth African coun­try to im­pose re­stric­tions on don­key ex­ports, fol­low­ing Niger, Sene­gal, Mali, Burk­ina Faso and Gam­bia.

Zim­babwe turned down an ap­pli­ca­tion to build a don­key slaugh­ter­house, while Ethiopia closed its only func­tion­ing don­key abat­toir af­ter res­i­dents com­plained about the smell. But the bans have led to a flour­ish­ing il­le­gal trade in don­key skins and caused prices to soar. Farm­ers in Botswana have been urged to closely mon­i­tor their don­keys to pre­vent thefts as well as to re­port sus­pi­cious ex­changes of live an­i­mals.

An­i­mal rights groups say the docile beasts of bur­den are of­ten cru­elly blud­geoned to death be­fore be­ing skinned in back­yards and clan­des­tine slaugh­ter­houses.

The in­dus­try is said to be worth bil­lions of dol­lars and China is in­creas­ingly look­ing to Africa to sat­isfy de­mand af­ter its own don­key pop­u­la­tion dropped sharply. Don­key num­bers in China have nearly halved from 11 mil­lion in the 1990s to six mil­lion in 2013, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial statis­tics.—AFP

POMFRET: This file pho­to­graph shows don­keys in a di­lap­i­dated house in the desert town of Pomfret, close to the Botswana border on the edge of the Kala­hari Desert in the north-west prov­ince of South Africa.—AFP

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