Donkeys skinned alive for Chinese anti-wrinkle serum

Ejiao – once the preserve of Chinese royalty

The skins are processed to obtain donkey-hide gelatin or ass-hide glue which is an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Called ejiao, it is now used as a miracle anti-wrinkle serum.

Selling at about R5 000 a kilo, ejiao was once the preserve of Chinese royalty but an increasingly affluent middle class in the country has pushed up demand.

Donkeys across the country are at risk of being bludgeoned and then skinned alive because of the insatiable demand for these products.

According to the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (NSPCA) there’s a massive increase in illegal donkey poaching.

Carnage across the country


Late in February the NSPCA posted on their facebook page that donkey skins worth more than R2 million had been found at a warehouse in Randfontein.

In a shack in Benoni, 5,000 donkey skins were discovered. The NSPCA’s Mpho Mokoena said that hammers were used to stun the donkeys. “When they fall down, they don’t even wait to see if the donkey is dead and just start skinning it.”

North West

On the Excelsior Lion Farm near Tosca in North West, the NSPCA found evidence that large numbers of donkeys had been “inhumanely slaughtered”.  The donkeys had not been “pre-stunned to render them unconscious prior to slaughter”.

The NSPCA team alerted the SAPS Stock Theft Unit and also the North West Province’s Veterinary Public Health Service. Charges are being laid in terms of the Animals Protection Act, Stock Theft Act and the Meat Safety Act.

Eastern Cape 

In the Eastern Cape dozens of donkeys were slaughtered and skinned on a dry riverbed between Grahamstown and Peddie in what the NSPCA has described as “a horrific battlefield spattered with decomposing maggot-covered carcasses”.

NSPCA senior inspector Vonny Strachan, who is based in the Eastern Cape, said inspectors had come across two such bloody scenes near Glenmore and that some of the 50 animals had been skinned alive after being rendered unconscious with a stun gun.

Inspector Annette Muller of the King William’s Town SPCA received reports of a cattle truck and two bakkies whose occupants paid rural youths to steal donkeys.

Northern Cape

According to Mokoena two people in Olifantshoek in the Northern Cape were arrested where they were slaughtering donkeys on a rented farm. “When we got there‚ there were about 500 carcasses lying around in the veld.”

Mokoena said Heinrich Smit and Dawid Pappie who were arrested‚ had already appeared in the Khatu Magistrate’s Court. They were charged under the Animals Protection Act and the Meat Safety Act.

Gumtree bans the sale of donkeys on their site

The NSPCA has welcomed online classifieds website Gumtree’s ban of the sale of donkeys and mules on its platforms.

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