The Upper East Regional Veterinary Service says the burgeoning trade in donkey hides is due to failure to enforce laws despite a national consensus to ban the trade.
The demand for donkey hides in the Upper East Region by Chinese traders has led to a massive slaughter of the animals.
Though neighbouring countries including Nigeria have successfully banned the trade after a call by West African heads of veterinary services, Ghana is yet to enforce same.
Speaking to Citi News, the Upper East Regional Veterinary Officer, Dr. Patrick Abekah said if care is not taken, the livelihood of many rural dwellers will be affected by the current situation.
“The notice was served to all the security agencies to ensure that this trade is discontinued. And those at the border side were supposed to ensure that they also don’t allow it to happen. The donkey population is depleting. With the rate at which they are slaughtering the donkeys in this region, if we don’t take time in the next five to six years, there could be a problem. There are socio-economic implications for our livelihoods because the donkeys are for work. It does everything. Secondly, it is also a source of employment in some areas like in Bawku where women and children use it to cart water and foodstuff. The donkey too used to serve as cheap source of protein in our community so if we kill it, what are we going to do,” he said.
Donkey hide is a hot commodity because of its increased export to China.
To Chinese merchants, donkey hides are a key ingredient in traditional medicines, fertility elixirs and energy drinks.
However, researchers have warned that donkey populations in Ghana and Kenya – hot spots in this skin trade – are on track to be “devastated” in the near future.