International equine welfare charity Brooke has launched a petition calling for a ban on the trade of donkey skins across East Africa.

Home to the highest donkey population in the world, the region has become a hotspot for donkey skin traders and has the highest number of slaughterhouses in Africa, currently six.

Donkeys are killed for their skins in order to fulfil the growing demand for ejiao, a gelatin used in traditional Chinese medicine and beauty products.

“There are major impacts in terms of both animal welfare and the livelihoods of animal owners,” said a spokesman for Brooke. “Donkeys are a vital part of the working livestock sector and support the livelihoods of thousands of people in East Africa.

“Currently, restrictions on the donkey skin trade are inconsistent and traders are able to exploit areas where the laws and enforcement are weakest, leaving donkeys at risk.”

Credit: Petterik Wiggers/Brooke

The petition addresses the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a trade bloc across East Africa, and urges it to ban the practice across the entire region.

IGAD acts as a regional government for Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. It harmonises policy across the region and facilitates conversations between member countries to collaboratively form and implement solutions to key developmental issues.

“Pressure from Brooke supporters has already helped secure a ban in Kenya and working with IGAD will allow us to have an even wider impact; shutting down the entire region and keeping donkey populations and livelihoods safe,” the spokesman added.

Sign the petition here.