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Trends, Issues and Prospects for the Africa–China Donkey Trade

Africa is home to the highest number of donkeys in the world: about two-thirds of the estimated global population of 53 million donkeys in 2020. Exact figures on how many hides are exported to China aren’t available due to a growing illicit trade, but there are indications. The scale of the donkey trade, both illicit and legal, poses a challenge for many countries in Africa, especially in terms of its impact on the most marginalised communities. Besides donkey welfare, a big part of the challenge is how affordable donkeys are locally. Donkeys have a valuable, ancient role as a workhorse and losing access to them creates a huge problem for poor households. This was also highlighted by a recent survey of the East African Community which found that the region was not ready for the mass slaughter and unregulated trade of donkeys. Millions of vulnerable East Africans rely on donkeys for a living and are at risk of losing out through the donkey skin trade. A China-Africa donkey hide trade may be possible if African countries get organised, form associations and establish a dialogue with the Shandong Ejiao Industry. The aim would be to work out sustainable mechanisms, prevent