The Tanzanian government shut down a donkey slaughterhouse for going against animal welfare, humane slaughter and abattoir hygiene. In a letter dated August 12, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries revoked a provisional permit issued to Fang Hua Investment Company Ltd in Ibadakuli, Shinyanga region.
"You are no longer allowed to receive donkeys at the facility and are given one more week starting August 14 to slaughter all remaining donkeys at the facility to avoid their (continued) suffering," the ministry said.
The letter added that the company had yet to establish donkey nucleus farms, a programme for donkey breeding, feeding, housing and disease control as promised in its original action plan
Animal rights activists including the UK-based Network for Animals and the Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPA) described the government's move as a "colossal victory" for donkeys welfare worldwide.
According to Network for Animals, many of the animals were being "stolen in Kenya and Uganda and illegally smuggled across the borders."
The Shinyanga plant is one of two donkey slaughterhouses established by Chinese investors in Tanzania to enable a reportedly lucrative trade in donkey skins that are used to extract gelatin needed for the production of ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine that is said to treat anaemia, reproductive issues and insomnia. The other abattoir is located in central Tanzania.
Ejiao is also a key ingredient in Chinese-made tonics and face creams, making it a multimillion dollar business. Various animal welfare charities identified Tanzania as one of several African countries — including Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast — whose donkey populations are targeted by Chinese traders for this purpose, the others.
The Tanzania Veterinary Laboratory Agency reported that the numbers dropped from about 1.5 million in 2016 to 595,000 in 2018. By contrast, Kenya has about 1.2 million donkeys compared with 1.8 million a decade ago, according to latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
The country is reported to have four registered abattoirs slaughtering at least 1,000 donkeys a day.