Bill to protect donkeys speeds through parliament

Bought animals awaiting transport. By this time two years ago, up to 2,000 donkeys alone were bought and sold in a single day's trading

A bill to prohibit trade in donkeys for their skin is being fast-tracked through the federal legislature and is expected to reach Senate by next week.

House of Representatives member Garba Datti, who’s been pushing for a bill to ban donkey trade, told Daily Trust, “Hopefully next week, the bill will be transmitted to the Senate” and then onward to the presidency once the Senate concurs.

Other parliaments across Africa will be expected to take a cue to protect national donkey population.

It comes amidst concern about depleting donkey populations across Africa in the wake of demand for their skin to make “ejiao”, a herbal supplement an increasing proportion of Chinese are consuming for skin health and sexual prowess.

Nigeria is among seven African countries that have banned donkey trade and export in efforts to conserve local donkey populations.

“There are bans, but no legal backing,” said Datti.

“That’s why we need to make a law so it will even be a criminal offence to trace in donkeys for their skin.”

The National Council on Agriculture, Nigeria’s highest policy-making body for agriculture, has classified donkeys as “endangered species” in efforts to conserve local populations, said Mohammed Umar, permanent secretary of the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development.

He spoke on behalf of the agriculture minister at the launch of “Under the skin”, a report by The Donkey Sanctuary detailing the impact of the global trade in donkey skin on West African communities dependent on donkey for work, mobility and livelihoods.

The import and export of raw animal skin is on a prohibitions list maintained by Customs.

But Umar said the ministry was working with the National Assembly on a bill to prohibit killing and export of donkeys.

“What the donkey is to West Africa is what the cow is to India,” said Umar.

“India couldn’t have been where it is today, if they had not saved the lives of cows.”

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