conservation

Hide nor hair –the illicit trade in donkey hides is a threat to wild asses

Citation

Zoe Raw. 2 September 2019. Hide nor hair –the illicit trade in donkey hides is a threat to wild asses. Poster presented at 2nd International Wild Equid Conference. (1 September - 5 September 2019). Prague, Czech Republic.

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Presentation details
Date presented: 
Monday 2 September 2019
Abstract

The global donkey population is estimated at 44 million and is largely associated with economically developing nations where donkeys are used as working animals. Donkeys play a central and critical role in supporting the livelihoods of millions of people accross the world, providing support for farming, enabling access to resources, and in food production. Global demand for diverse products of donkey origin has escalated rapidly, with a particular interest in the premium products resulting from donkey skins.

Ejiao is a traditional Chinese medicine product which is based upon extracts of donkey gelatin from donkey skins, mixed with herbs and other ingredients to form a gelatinous bar, which is marketed as a miracle cure for multiple health problems. Since 2010, consumer demand for ejiao has increased rapidly, and subsequently, so has the demand for donkey skins. The Donkey Sanctuary estimate that a minimum of 1.8 million donkey skins are being traded per year, but this may be a gross underestimate. The increasing wealth and diaspora of the Chinese middle classes, alongside the apparent credibility of ejiao products, appears to have created such a high level of demand for donkey skins that global supply is struggling to keep up, leading to high prices and widespread claims of fraud. Such high levels of demand by the Chinese market are fuelling global reports of donkey theft and a sudden increase in the purchase price of donkeys. Products of donkey origin are so highly sought after that ejiao can sell for up to USD $500/kg.

The alarmingly high demand for donkey skins, and high prices that a donkey skin can fetch, positions donkey skin in a similar position as ivory or rhino horn. There is a complete lack of regulation over the utilisation of donkeys for the skin trade to fuel ejiao production, and new slaughter houses are opening at rapid rates to keep up with demand. Consequently, there has been a sharp rise in donkey thefts. As well as being unsustainable and harmful to rural livelihoods, this illicit trade could have devastating effects on populations of wild asses. Donkey skin is highly valuable, yet increasingly scarce, making it feasible that traders will start targeting wild asses. The Afrcan Wild Ass Equus africanus is Critically Endangered, with fewer than 200 mature indivduals remaining in the wild; unfortunately, the species occupies an area of Africa where the trade in donkey skins is high, exposing it to risk of being targeted. There is also some indication that populations of Asiatic Wild Ass Equus hemionus could also come under threat, given their proximity to China and surrounding socioeconomic climate.

The international trade in donkey skins has emerged rapidly and fiercely, and is grossly unsustainable. The trade has the significant potential to eradicate populations of donkeys across Africa, and poses a serious threat to the conservation and survival of African Wild Ass populations. In this presentation I raise and highlight these issues, and open up discussion for how this new threat may be mitigated for the conservation and management of wild equids.

Viability analyses of an endangered donkey breed: the case of the Asinina de Miranda (Equus asinus)

Citation

M. Quaresma, A. M. F. Martins, J. B. Rodrigues, J. Colaço, R. Payan-Carreira. September 2014. Viability analyses of an endangered donkey breed: the case of the Asinina de Miranda (Equus asinus). Animal Production Science. 55:9. 1184-1191.

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Publication date: 
30 September 2014
Volume: 
55
Issue: 
9
Page numbers: 
1184-1191
DOI number: 
10.1071/AN13307
Abstract

The donkey breed Asinina de Miranda, with fewer than 1000 breeding females, is in danger of extinction. The objectives of this study were to predict the progression of the breed under present management and identify determinants for survival, by means of a population viability analysis program, in order to suggest suitable management strategies. The simulation showed a high risk of extinction. The most critical factor for breed survival was the percentage of females breeding per year, but the actual percentage needed depended on the carrying capacity of the breed. Reducing female mortality and age at production of first offspring, assuring registration in the Studbook, and tracking the foals will significantly foster this donkey breed’s recovery and maintenance. The breed comprised a potentially reproductive population of 589 individuals; however, just 54.1% of the adult females registered in the Studbook ever foaled, and of these 62.7% foaled just once. The overall neonatal mortality for the first month of life was 8.92% and was lower in females (6.51%) than in males (12.0%) (P = 0.028). Neonatal mortality was unevenly distributed throughout the year, with lower mortality rates recorded in February–May and October–November, and higher mortality rates in June–September and again in December–January. The neonatal foal mortality rate was lower with females aged 5–15 years (8.06%) than those younger than 4 years (10.3%) or older than 16 years (14.1%) at foaling.
Article first published online

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Pedigree and herd characterization of a donkey breed vulnerable to extinction

Citation

M. Quaresma, A. M. F. Martins, J. B. Rodrigues, J. Colaço, R. Payan-Carreira. March 2014. Pedigree and herd characterization of a donkey breed vulnerable to extinction. Animal. 8:3. 354-359.

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Publication details
Publication date: 
1 March 2014
Journal: 
Animal
Volume: 
8
Issue: 
3
Page numbers: 
354-359
Abstract

Most donkey and local horse breeds are vulnerable to extinction as mechanization of agriculture progress throughout the world. The present study analyzed the pedigree and herd records of the donkey Asinina de Miranda breed (RAM), identifying genealogical and human factors that may affect the breed genetic diversity in the future and suggesting suitable strategies to breed preservation, early on the conservation program. The breeding rate was very low, with a ratio of foaling/live animals of 0.23 (178/760). The estimated number of founders and ancestors contributing to the reference population was 128 and 121. The number of founder herds in the reference population was 64, with an effective number of founder herds for the reference population of 7.6. The mean age of herd owners was 65.50±0.884 years, with a negative association among the herd size and owner’s age (P<0.001). In contrast, the size of the herd and the ownership of a male were both positively associated (P<0.001) with the herd number of in-born foals. Both the owners’ age and the herd location (RAM home region v. dispersal region) were negatively associated with the foaling number (P<0.001). The main identified risk factors were: low breeding rates; low number of males and their unequal contribution to the genetic pool; unequal contribution of the herds to genetic pool; and advanced age of herd owners.
Published online: 13 December 2013

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