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After the rhinoceros by its horn and the elephant by its tusks, a new species much less exotic in Africa suffers the ravages of the Asian demand: the donkey, increasingly coveted in China by skins to which they attribute healing properties.


Faced with the scarcity of donkeys in the national market due to overexploitation, the Chinese resort to the African continent to have fur of this equine and to continue to manufacture “ejiao”.

Obtained from boiling skin and sold in powder or tablets, “ejiao” is a gelatin used in traditional Chinese medicine to prolong life and improve the skin and sexual benefits increasingly popular among the growing middle class of the Asian giant .

Due to the popularity of these quadrupeds in rural areas, and the porosity of often corrupt customs, Africa is one of the favourite places for Chinese merchants who massively import furs to make this millennial product.

“The effects on rural communities are devastating. Donkeys are essential for people to carry firewood or water for agriculture,” Ashley Ness, an inspector of the Highveld Horse Care Unit who fight against illegal killing of equines in South Africa, told EFE.

Obtaining the skins

These networks obtain the animals by stealing from their owners or acquire them from owners in need of quick money. An entire donkey’s skin like a carpet, without holes or tatters, can be sold later in China for about 500 euros.

“Many times they leave bodies and meat abandoned,” says Ness, who adds that transport from South Africa is usually done by boat from the port of Durban and without any customs control.

Countries such as Niger or Burkina Faso banned in 2016 exporting donkey skins to China after tens of thousands of equines were slaughtered for their skins.

Other governments, such as those in Kenya and Botswana, have chosen to open farms to supply donkey China legally.

One of the areas most affected by donkey skin fever is the southern part of the continent.

South Africa

In January, South African police confiscated the skins of some 3,500 animals in Johannesburg on a property east of Johannesburg, the largest operation so far, in an operation that will allow them to advance in the fight against mafias dedicated to trafficking.

“Every week during the last year a truck came and loaded skins,” Ness told EFE, who received the complaint that led to the capture of neighbours and cites a worker on the property as a source.

Ness estimates that between 1,500 and 3,500 donkey skins left each week in trucks during 2016 from that place, in which two Chinese citizens were found who denied being the owners of the skins and are investigated by the Police.

Most of the skins did not have documents proving their origin or that the animals had been slaughtered according to the regulations in force.

In another operation, last month, South African police arrested two individuals related to the killing of more than 100 donkeys on a farm in the province of the Northern Cape.

Witnesses of the sacrifices have denounced that some animals died by hammering.

In the most recent police action, the police intercepted on 20 February near Johannesburg a cargo of donkey skins with an estimated value of more than 150,000 euros.

The South African province of Northwest is one of the hardest hit by donkey theft. Several owners have reported to the local press have lost most of their equines at the hands of thieves, while others celebrate the rise of the price of this animal thanks to Chinese demand.

Meanwhile, the provincial government works with the Chinese authorities to create several donkey farms to supply the Asian country’s market, and create wealth and jobs in the area.

“We have information on killings and donkey trafficking, and for that reason we want to create a formal market and meet all legal requirements,” EFE Patrick Leteane, of the North West province government, told EFE that he hoped the project would contribute to put an end to the irregular trade of the species.

Johannesburgo, February 28, 2017, EFE/Practica Español

Grammar notes: review of the tenses of the subjunctive mood

Comprensión del texto C.1 (Comprehension C.1)

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Question 1
El texto habla de...
La prohibición de comerciar con pieles de burro en el gigante asiático.
La importación china de pieles de burro.
La exportación de pieles de asno.
Question 2
En el texto se dice que...
Cada vez se está fabricando más 'ejiao' en África.
China ha aprobado un programa para proteger a los burros del tráfico ilegal de animales.
En China se utiliza la piel de esos animales para usos medicinales y afrodisíacos.
Question 3
Según el texto, ¿por qué el destino favorito es África?
Porque los países de este continente carecen de un fuerte control aduanero.
Porque los países africanos tienen las tasas aduaneras más baratas del mundo.
Porque es el lugar donde hay más burros.
Question 4
En el texto se dice que...
Todos los países de África han prohibido el comercio de pieles de burro.
Muchas pieles de burro se consiguen de forma ilegal.
Los países septentrionales de África son los que más importan pieles de burro.
Question 5
Las autoridades de Sudáfrica quieren acabar con el tráfico ilegal de estas pieles.
No se sabe.
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