Animal hides ‘abuse’ irks leather producers
LEATHER works producers have bemoaned the shortage of animal hides, calling on Basotho to learn how to properly preserve them so as to generate income by selling them.
Rose Leather Works Manager Mateboho Mathibeli and businessman Mojalefa Rasephei, who manufacture an array of leather products from pig and sheep hides, told the Lesotho Times this week that they have to scrounge for their raw materials since most people discard them after slaughtering the beasts.
Ms Mathibeli co-owns a Maseru-based company that produces wool and leather products such as ladies’ handbags, travel bags, morning slippers and mobile phone pouches among others.
Mr Rasephei owns a tannery in Mazenod specialising in sheep leather processing. The company supplies wool to such companies as Rose Leather Works and others in the area.
According to Ms Mathibeli, there is a dearth of knowledge among communities about the proper preservation of animal skins and hides, which has resulted in a shortage of raw materials.
“Our communities still lack knowledge regarding the benefits of animal hides, skins and horns which are used to produce a host of products such as morning slippers, handbags, travel bags as well as other accessories,” said Ms Mathibeli.
“The cattle horns can also be used to making ladies earrings; products from which people can earn a living for themselves. However, the rampant discarding of our raw materials has made our work very difficult as they are becoming harder to find.”
She added that many lucrative opportunities awaited communities willing to trade in leather products, as the industry is not only easy to venture into, but is also environmentally-friendly.
“When some of us forayed into this business as small traders, we did not anticipate that there would be this much potential, but we have come to learn a lot of things regarding the industry,” Ms Mathibeli said. “The business has a recycling effect as it ensures the re-use of what is regarded as waste by many.”
Mr Rasephei also echoed Ms Mathibeli’s sentiments, describing the handling of animal hides within communities as an “injustice”.
“I wish there was a way government would intercept people who still throw animal hides in tombs during burials. I shudder to think how many cattle hides are being discarded every weekend when burials take place in the country,” said Mr Rasephei.
“I would suggest to people who still do not see the use of an animal hide to, at least, consider bringing it to the tannery for us to tan it for them.”
He also called on stakeholders, including government, to augment their support for the sector by securing lucrative markets for local products.
ROSE Leather Works Manager Mateboho Mathibeli holds some of the wool and leather cushions she produces.
ROSE Leather Works produces morning slippers and ladies’ handbags.