Donkey leather is the new black gold for a demanding Chinese market

In the streets of Lahore and Kasur, two Pakistan cities famous worldwide for being important leather centers, it’s not rare to come across discarded donkeys carcasses. It’s also very easy finding Chinese traders paying for illegal leather stocks in cash. According to these two cities local press, in recent weeks the police has carried out several arrests of illegal leather smugglers that crossed the borders between Pakistan and China at night to export dried donkey leather or preserved in salt. Apparently, donkey’s leather is the latest Beijing craze. This material is, in fact,  used for the production of cosmetics, food and, above all, for the eijao, a traditional Chinese medicine useful for treating symptoms such as colds and insomnia. It’s because of the growing demand for the eijao, that donkey has become a precious commodity for which it is worth breaking the law. The trade of leather donkey is prohibited in a growing number of countries. China has placed limits after the national equine stock decreased from 11 million units to 6 in the last 20 years. Many African states took similar measures after that Chinese traders turned their eyes towards the Dark Continent. Niger has imposed a halt in killing the animal when, n the first 10 months of the year of 2016, it registered 80,000 slaughtered animals. A figure that was more than double the one registered in 2015 (27,000). Before Niger, it was Burkina Faso that put restrictions in killing the animals when the country discovered that until August 2016 already 45,000, out of a national asset of 1.4 million of animals, had been transferred to slaughterhouses. According to the Sauer Report, the price of donkey leather in Africa, where South Africa and Kenya markets still sell freely donkey leather, prices have rocketed at $ 98. For this reason, illegal leather coming from Pakistan is even more alluring. According to what reported by The International Leather Maker, since the ban on exporting donkey leather has been introduced the value of the raw material in Islamabad has dropped from 95-190 to 47-66 USD. The discounted paid by Chinese smugglers has been justified by the cost to bribe customs officials.


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