Authorities in Pakistan have banned the export of donkey hides amid a rising tide of slaughter of the animals.
Regulators are concerned over reports of illegal slaughter practices and widespread claims that the meat is being passed off as beef, particularly in the Punjab region.
The Pakistan Cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee imposed the ban early in September, citing the slaughter of rising numbers of the working animals, which number about 5 million across the country.
Before the ban, Pakistan media reported on donkey meat being available in major cities, with a 217 percent rise in donkey-hide exports in the last fiscal year seen as evidence of the growing trade. It was alleged that even some restaurants were passing the meat off as beef.
The hides are exported mainly to China, Vietnam and Hong Kong, after receiving regulatory clearance.
The skins are said to be used in the manufacture of cosmetics and gelatin.
Media reports have suggested the animals were being slaughtered in brutal ways, or even poisoned, in order to obtain unblemished hides, which can reportedly fetch up to 20,000 rupees ($US309) each.
Government objections relate not to the sale of the hides, but improper disposal of the carcasses.
Meanwhile, Dawn.com is reporting on the seizure of a Hong-Kong-bound consignment of 1200 donkey hides at the Karachi International Container Terminal in recent days.
Inquiries into the shipment are continuing.