It’s not been long since we published our report Under the Skin and the work to help donkeys and their communities has only just begun.
Alex Mayers, Programme Manager, visited Tanzania, where he and Dr Thomas Kahema, founder of The Tanzanian Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO), visited a donkey market believed to be serving the skin trade. During an emotional video, Alex described horrendous conditions for these donkeys as they waited to die.
To report their findings and discuss how the skin trade is affecting communities in Tanzania, on Monday Alex and Thomas met with local NGOs and a representative from the Director of Veterinary Services.
“The government representative was very positive and was shocked to see the impact of the global trends we are seeing. The mixture of significant animal welfare concerns and impact on livelihoods of the rural population in particular were very hard-hitting. The report is now in the hands of Tanzania’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and with our partners, we are pushing them to take into account the whole picture and give adequate protection to both the donkeys and the people who rely on them.”
During Alex and Thomas’s visit, the government released a circular to stop issuing permits to transport donkeys to the market from any part of the country which is a promising sign that the government is listening.
“Movements for local use like buying donkeys for work from markets will continue but movement to Dodoma market is temporarily stopped,” Thomas said. “The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and stakeholders are working on the fate of the huge numbers of donkeys at the market at the moment.”
Fallout from the skin trade has made it into the courts. During Alex’s trip, in Msagali, near where he was staying, three people were imprisoned for six years each for stealing five donkeys.
The trade has been also making headlines in South Africa, where our partners are working on the front line to help donkeys caught up in the skin trade.
Highveld Horse Care Unit were called out to property where around 3,500 donkey and foal skins were found piled up in a container. In another case the National Council of Societies for the Protection and Care of Animals (NSPCA) helped in the prosecution of two men accused of killing hundreds of donkeys with a hammer. In a news report a spokesperson from the Chinese embassy said they didn’t know of any Chinese businesses importing donkey hide from “proper channels”.
The increased attention has got fingers pointing, but as Ashley Ness from HHCU says in our podcast, people shouldn’t be too eager to allocate blame elsewhere.
Listen to the podcast:
Newspapers in the UK and worldwide have also been covering Under the Skin, including an interview with our CEO Mike Baker on the BBC World Service. We hope that each story shared will help give a voice to the donkeys caught up in this trade.