Donkey imports linked to use in traditional cures

Updated 2017-04-25 09:31:16 Global Times

China's donkey imports are in line with global demand and help solve the problem of donkey overpopulation in some areas, an entrepreneur said on Monday.

Ejiao, a kind of gelatin made from donkey hides, is an important ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. It is often used to treat ailments such as colds and insomnia.

Qin Yufeng, president of Dong'e Ejiao Pharmaceutical Co, whose major product is ejiao, told the Global Times on Monday that the global demand for ejiao is hard to meet if the company merely depends on domestic recourses.

The Global Times found that the global market demand for donkey products is enormous, with ejiao use reaching 5,000 tons and hides hitting 4 million units, by which standard, China needs to have 11 million of donkeys on farms to strike a balance between supply and demand.

However, China's donkey herds have been on the decline over the past 20 years, resulting in a serious lack of supply.

"It is reasonable to take advantage of global resources to meet global demand," Qin stressed, noting that 55 percent of Indonesia's ejiao comes from non-Chinese sources.

Donkey imports could be a win-win strategy by following the model of China's surging demand for Australian beef, Qin explained, noting it will bring benefits to Australia's natural environment and economic growth if the local oversupply of wild donkeys could be kept in captivity.

The company has sent at least two delegations to Australia's Northern Territory to sign a breeding agreement covering 10,000 to 20,000 donkeys, Qin noted.

Africa is also an emerging source, but the flourishing trade has met with some difficulties, according to a report by CNN in September 2016.

For example, Niger, an inland country in western Africa, banned exports of donkeys, following a surge in sales to China, the report said.

It also noted that the low standard of local donkey slaughterhouses had caused some environmental problems.

Meanwhile, the soaring prices of donkeys resulted in an imbalance in the economy.

"There are definitely some problems arising from the industrialization of donkey breeding, but we cannot exaggerate the irregular operation in some places even at the cost of traditional Chinese medicine," Qin said, targeting the actions of some officials and animal protection organizations.

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