Plans by a Bulawayo-based company, Battlefront Investments, to construct a $150 000 specialised state-of-the-art donkey abattoir risks slashing Zimbabwe’s donkey population by 21 000 annually.
In a joint statement by Aware Trust Zimbabwe, Spana, ZNSPCA, VAWZ and Lupane Youth for Development Trust, the groups said the plans to set up an abattoir with a capacity to dress more than 70 animals per day will have grave socio-economic, animal welfare and environmental consequences.
The main driver in the donkey parts trade is demand for their skins, which are processed into a luxury tonic “ejiao’, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine for everything from insomnia to impotence. It sells for the equivalent of R5 000 — 17 000/kg, depending on the product.
“If supply met demand, using 300 working days per year, the population of donkeys could be decreased by 21 000 per year,” the groups said in a statement.
“While some local farmers may benefit from the short-term sale of their donkeys, they are unlikely to be aware of the long-term consequences of this trade. The importance of the working donkey to communal farmers cannot be overstated.”