Uganda has become the latest country to protect its working donkey population by banning the trade in donkey skins in a strongly-worded statement. The move has been applauded by The Donkey Sanctuary which has been leading efforts to halt the trade.

The huge demand from China for a traditional medicine called ejiao, made from donkey skins, is resulting in donkey-dependent communities around the world being targeted by skin traders, with a legal trade being supplemented by an extensive illegal trade in stolen and slaughtered donkeys.

Uganda announced the move via a letter from the Permanent Secretary, Pius Kasajja, at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. Uganda’s decision to ban the trade was made due to the “...negative consequences..” that the trade was having “.. mainly on the poor households, the women and the youth that depend on the donkey for transporting water, firewood, construction materials, people, farm produce, livestock feed, and for transporting harvests to the market”.

The Permanent Secretary added that the ban would “…protect and preserve the donkey for the benefit of the communities that depend on it”.

Alex Mayers, Head of Programmes at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “We applaud the stand being taken by Uganda to protect its working donkey population. The value it has placed on its donkeys is the role they have in supporting poor communities, women and children and providing them with a living and livelihood. This is not something you can put a price on and it is worth a great deal more than a donkey’s skin.”

The Permanent Secretary notified all regions that donkey sales and purchases for slaughter would stop, donkey slaughterhouses were to be closed “indefinitely with immediate effect”, sellers/buyers of more than three donkeys would need to show that they were being used for “agricultural purposes” and donkeys purchased in Botswana would be prohibited from being exported to neighbouring countries.

Mike Baker, Chief Executive of The Donkey Sanctuary, added: "This news is fantastic. Uganda was becoming a hub for the trade and the government deserve real credit for taking such swift action."