It is a donkey business
Reports about possibility of donkey trading between North West Province and China were confirmed by the North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ). This is after brutal killings and wide spread information of donkey theft is said to be spreading all around the country according to one South African national paper.
Donkey livestock owners from villages around North West province will soon have to worry about the livelihood of their donkeys every time they leave for grazing.
Like rhino horns and tiger parts villagers will have to protect their donkeys from brutal conducts due to the high demand of their skin in china.
Even though many of the villagers who are currently donkey livestock owners are impoverished and not conversant with much, their donkeys is their reliable source of transportation something they cannot afford to lose.
Ntate Kgosiemang from Ntsweletsoku village in Ramotshere Moiloa local municipality who have been fetching water and delivering goods using donkey cart most of his life fine it difficult to understand the value there is on the trade but only fear for his donkeys’ well being. “I do not know how will I fetch water if I lose this donkey” he said.
According to Brigadier Sabata Mokgoabona, situation of donkey theft falls under general stock theft. “People do come forward to report and open cases of donkey theft. Some of this cases where reported in an area called Makgobistad” noted. Even though not all of them are related to donkey hide harvesting.
While some villagers around the North West province are excited about the news of tapping in to this new market of donkey trading of which the plan is to boost the provincial economy with more focus on the Village, Township and Small Dorpies (VTSD) by embarking on the production programme. Some livestock owners around the province have their own view.
Gideon Morule, the provincial secretary of African Farmers Association of South Africa state that breeding donkeys is too much work for emerging farmers. I see “no return in investment” he said. His concern is also the foaling process and the fact that their grazing is capable of destroying the veld since they are famous for over grazing.
According to Boeta du Toit establishing “donkey breeding farms is putting the horse before the cart” said the manager for Agri North West, which is an organisation promoting agriculture by means of involvement in inputs, policies and their implementations. “There is no legislature regulation, policies adopted or abattoir approved” he continued. Du Toit explained that the “exportation of donkey hide and meat is currently illegal”. Even though he could not encourage nor discourage the trade his concern was that there are no proper research or feasibility studies conducted” to ensure that this will be a success. His concern was also the market value of the skin and explained issues of how donkeys grow slowly as compared to other livestock. Donkey’s pregnancy cycle is said to be between 10 to 14 months. Another practice of concern was that currently people get away with illegally harvesting of donkey skins because donkeys are not branded and there is no law regulating that.
The high demand in the exportation of donkey hides to China has been reported beneficial to livestock sellers in African countries of which some later pulled out.
The wide spread brutal killing has led to many countries banning the exportation and others going on campaigns to protect donkeys with concern that their slaughter threatens livelihood and communities.
Statement from the provincial department entails donkey production programme as animal cultivation which includes establishing of donkey abattoirs, commercial trading of donkey meat and hides. The key ingredient in donkey hide, gelatine is used in the production of Chinese medicine called “ejiao”. This ingredient is added to products which are claimed to offer various medical benefits such as delaying menopause, Libido, weight loss, flu and several others.