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PETA urges halt to Kenya's 'horrific' donkey skin trade to China

AFP  |  Nairobi 

activists urged Thursday to ban the slaughter of donkeys for Chinese medicine, a practice which has soared in recent years, decimating populations of the animal in

skins are exported to to make a traditional medicine known as ejiao, which is believed to improve blood circulation.

It was once the preserve of emperors but is now highly sought after by a burgeoning middle-class.

People for the Ethical Treatment of (PETA) told AFP that an investigation inside Kenyan slaughterhouses showed being cruelly beaten by workers, or dead after long truck journeys from neighbouring countries.

"is calling for to join many other African nations in banning the slaughter of donkeys. There is simply no need for this cruelty, (the medicine) is not even something that has been shown to be effective," said

is increasingly looking to to satisfy demand as its own population has nearly halved in recent years.

Several African countries have banned the export of skins and closed Chinese-owned slaughterhouses, meaning thousands are now trucked long distances into from countries like Ethiopia, and

"There are virtually no laws against the abuse of on farms or in slaughterhouses in Kenya, so none of the violence captured in the footage is punishable from a legal standpoint," said in a statement.

The government has not responded to a request for comment.

John Kariuki, the where alleged abuse was observed, told AFP: "Whoever saw donkeys beaten inside my slaughterhouse is a liar and should look for something else to talk about."

of the UK-based animal welfare organisation The said stories about the trade first began emerging in 2016, with tales of people waking up in the morning to find all of their donkeys had been stolen in the night, often skinned a short distance away.

"It started to happen across all corners of Africa, then even wider to Brazil, Peru, Pakistan, all over we were seeing the same photos, the same stories." An investigation by the body in 2017 found the donkey skin trade was inhumane and "completely unsustainable", he said.

As the main export is the skin, "it doesn't really matter if a donkey is beaten or bruised by the time it is slaughtered, there is no incentive at all to keep donkeys in good welfare," said Mayers.

In Tanzania, there had been cases of slaughterhouse workers using sledgehammers to kill donkeys, he added. "We've seen cases in where donkeys have been rounded up and machine-gunned. In South slaughter operators have admitted using hammers to kill the donkeys, or... skinning them alive.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 16:01 IST
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