Amid growing calls for the equid skin trade to halt in Nigeria, The Donkey Sanctuary spoke in Nigerian Parliament to support a Bill aimed at safeguarding the national herd.
At a public hearing in the House of Representatives, Hon. Garba Mohammed put forward a Bill which would: “Prohibit the killing and exportation of donkeys or its carcass or derivatives out of Nigeria given their depletion in numbers.” The Bill was met with overwhelming support, once again affirming Nigeria's firm stance against the donkey skin trade.
For a number of years Nigeria's donkey population had been targeting for its skins, which are used to make a traditional remedy in China known as ejiao. According to figures presented in a 2018 news report on donkey exportation, the scale of this targeting is so great that Nigeria could lose its population of 1.5 million donkeys in less than three years.
"Nigeria’s donkey population is being cut down and harvested like maize on an industrial scale for their skins." says Simon Pope, campaigns manager at The Donkey Sanctuary, who spoke in support of Mohammed's Bill.
"It is unregulated, unsustainable and despite the export of skins being prohibited by law, it continues unchallenged.
"Even traders are now claiming that donkeys are becoming "scarce" in some parts of Nigeria. With millions of people in Nigeria dependant on working donkeys for their independence and livelihoods, a stand has to be taken now in order to safeguard this valuable livelihood assets for both current and future generations."
The Bill was received positively by not only members of the Committee at the hearing, but also from key Government departments and officials - including the director of veterinary services who attended and spoke at the hearing. During the meeting with the Speaker of the House that followed, The Donkey Sanctuary was informed that the Bill would become law as soon possible.
Simon continues: "Millions of individuals, hundreds of thousands of communities in Nigeria are sustained by the livelihoods provided to them by a donkey over its 20+ years of service. They provide something far more valuable to millions of people both as a loyal, sentient being as well as on a socio-economic level.
"The minority voices of opposition to the Bill have been drowned out by those determined to protect this valued and precious resource for the Nigerian people. Nigeria has shown itself to be a leader in respect of curbing the skin trade and we hope other countries follow that lead.”