A site where more than 100 donkeys were illegally slaughtered has been discovered on a farm in Olifantshoek, Northern Cape, said the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals’ (NSPCA) farm animal protection unit.
“Two individuals were arrested and have been charged in terms of the Animals Protection Act and the Meat Safety Act”, said NSPCA inspector Mpho Mokoena, who has been investigating the matter since January 10.
A number of witnesses told of the animals being brutally slaughtered, including being bludgeoned with hammers.
The increase in the demand for donkey hides is tied to a belief that the gelatin in the donkey hides contains medicinal properties, according to Highveld Horse Care Unit deputy inspector Kabelo Nkoane.
Mokoena said: “The gelatin is a key ingredient in China’s ejiao industry, which produces tablets, tonics and a sweet syrup. The skins are soaked and stewed to produce or release this substance.”
The news of the Olifantshoek slaughter site comes after the Mail & Guardian reported the discovery of more than 5 000 donkey hides in a shack in Benoni, Gauteng, last week. The bust marked the single biggest discovery of donkey hides and a major breakthrough in a case against a syndicate suspected of slaughtering the animals, in a trade that is suspected to be worth millions of rands.
“We are aware of the events in Benoni. In fact, one of the suspects we apprehended in Olifantshoek said that is where the skins are transported to. Although [in Olifantshoek], unlike in Benoni, the donkey skins were found alongside meat. The suspect’s reference to Benoni, however, suggests the illegal slaughtering of donkeys is bigger than we think and needs to be thoroughly investigated,” said Mokoena.