Ejiao: a miracle cure or animal genocide?
There are many controversial medicines out there and the traditional Chinese remedy Ejiao is no exception.
Despite having existed for centuries, Ejiao has grown in popularity recently due to the increased perception of its efficacy and is sold mostly to the affluent, middle class people in China.
Although there are no scientific facts to prove its effectiveness, Ejiao is highly prized in China and is believed to be a cure for insomnia, poor blood circulation and irregular menstruation. With many Chinese people obsessed with the concept of good health and longevity, it has also become a popular anti-ageing treatment.
Donkey skin is used and boiled to produce gelatine, a key ingredient in Ejiao, and has been responsible for the emergence of a global skin trade. Today there are at least 1.8 million donkeys being traded each year for the medicine, putting the donkey population in both China and Africa under threat.
Several African countries have already responded to the growing mass trade by ceasing all donkey trade to China in the last year. This includes Niger, a country which is believed to have exported 80,000 donkeys to China this year compared to 27,000 the previous year.
The soaring demand for the medicine has pushed up the price of a donkey significantly with it costing up to $145 today and only $34 few years ago. In addition, the number of imitation products have risen with other animals such as cows and pigs also made to suffer for their skin.
Animal rights group PETA have recently released footage which exposes the cruel, agonising deaths that donkeys must endure for their skin. The video showed farmers slaughtering the malnourished animals by swinging a sledgehammer at the forehead and slitting them at the throat.
The PETA Director of International Programmes, Mimi Bekhechi said, “PETA Asia is calling on kind people everywhere to reject Ejiao and encourage their friends and family members to do the same.”
According to experts on traditional Chinese medicine, it is a misconception that Ejiao is the best treatment available. It is believed that there are many other options that are considered more effective, but is the Chinese market willing to give up their miracle cure to save the donkey population?