Wild horse advocacy group steps up to help fight ejiao trade

The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is supporting Brooke USA in its efforts to combat the ejiao trade.
The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) is supporting Brooke USA in its efforts to combat the ejiao trade. © Brooke USA

A US wild horse protection group has come out in support of Brooke USA in its efforts to promote the passage of the Ejiao Act (H.R. 5203) to combat the trade in donkey hides.

American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) Executive Director Suzanne Roy said that with US demand being a driver of the trade, the country was in a unique position to put a dent in the production of ejiao and support the welfare of the animals and the economic sustainability of people in developing countries.

She said the “brutal trade” in donkey hides, was creating a market for the slaughter of innocent animals.

“In the US, we’re seeing a dramatic uptick in the number of wild burros entering the slaughter pipeline as a result of the federal government’s mass roundup policy and cash-incentive adoption program, and we have serious concerns that many of these burros are being slaughtered for the ejiao trade.”

H.R. 5203 was introduced by US Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) in September, marking a major step forward for Brooke USA and its effort to combat the brutal trade in donkey hides.

Ejiao (UH-gee-OW) is a gelatin derived from donkey hides that is used primarily in China for alternative medicine and beauty treatments. As the US is the third-largest global importer of ejiao, the Ejiao Act is designed to restrict US trade in all ejiao products made from donkey skins, which subjects donkeys to heinous abuse and slaughter, and threatens the impoverished families and communities who rely on them.

“Documentation has shown these animals being beaten, abused, and killed with sledgehammers,” the AWHC said.

The demand for donkey skins in China has risen to about 8 to 10 million skins per year, but the country’s annual supply is less than 1.8 million, leading to the slaughter of donkey populations globally, particularly in Kenya, Ethiopia, Botswana, and Brazil. “At the current rate, the present global donkey population of 44 million could be halved over the next five years, ” the AWHC said.

In the wild, research shows that burros play a critical role in the health of the desert ecosystems that they inhabit, digging wells and providing water sources for desert wildlife and plants. Domestic donkeys are valued as companions, guard animals for domestic livestock, and therapy animals.

They are also crucial to the lives of more than 600 million people globally, many of them living in poverty. Around the world, donkeys undertake important daily tasks, such as fetching drinking water, taking products to market for sale, and transporting children to school. For families making less than two dollars a day, a donkey can be a lifeline. Yet donkeys are often stolen and sold for slaughter at ever-increasing prices, making it impossible for families to afford a replacement.

The ejiao trade also poses public health concerns. According to the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health), donkey farms likely originated the 2019 outbreak of Equine Influenza across West Africa, which most notably killed 62,000 animals in Nigeria.

Building support for the bill and its implications on improving the livelihoods of people in vulnerable communities across the globe is a mammoth task and one that requires not only bi-partisan support from Congress but engagement from constituents all over the country. To this end, AWHC and American Horse PAC, a federal political action committee dedicated to protecting wild and domestic equines, have endorsed the need for legislation banning the importation and sale of ejiao in the United States.

AWHC is working closely with Brooke USA through its government relations team, lobbying to build support in Congress for the Ejiao Act and urging its supporters to write and call their US Representatives. American Horse PAC is also throwing its weight behind the issue to further increase congressional support and awareness.

Brooke USA Chief Executive Officer Emily Dulin said the charity was grateful for the support: “We are delighted to have connected with AWHC and American Horse PAC to drive the bill forward.

“We cannot do it alone.”


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