Ejiao is a form of Chinese medicine made from donkey-hide gelatin that has been used for more than 2,500 years. Originally thought to help people with anemia, eijao is now touted as having the ability to boost energy, improve sleep, prevent cancer, and even improve libido. However, there is no clinical evidence that eijao does what its manufacturers claim. Nevertheless, this “miracle elixir” is big business: The world’s largest Chinese producer reported sales of £700 million (about $904 million USD) in 2016, and the popularity of eijao is spelling trouble for donkeys worldwide, as Chinese companies seek out donkey skins from wherever they can source them. The increased demand for donkeys is also economically squeezing individuals throughout Africa, where people have relied on donkeys as low-cost pack animals for centuries.
A miracle cure wreaking havoc:
- For example, in Kenya, the cost of a donkey has more than tripled in the past year, putting them out of reach for people who have traditionally depended on the animals' ability to handle heavy loads.
- Nine African governments have banned donkey skin exports; the animals are now worth more dead than alive. Four other African countries have closed down slaughterhouses funded by Chinese money.
- But “bush slaughter” continues across Africa, Asia, and South America -- such as a recent report that villagers in South Africa brutally killed 25 donkeys and then sold them to a Chinese exporter.