All donkey slaughterhouses in Tanzania will be shut as the country takes strong action on halting the trade in donkey hides.

The Tanzanian government has announced the closures will start in July and the Donkey Sanctuary has welcomed the news.

“I’m delighted that the Tanzanian government is standing up for its donkeys and has recognised both the seriousness of the threat posed by this trade, and the social, cultural and economic value that donkeys have,” said Alex Mayers, the charity’s head of programmes.

Tanzania has been a major source of skins, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Last year, 1.8 million donkeys were either sourced legally or stolen and slaughtered for their skins across the world.

This caused mass suffering to the animals and is damaging to communities who rely on working donkeys in order to survive.

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The Donkey Sanctuary and its Tanzanian partners, including Tanzania Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO), have been working to influence the government’s decision.

“It is an honour to have worked with the team so closely and we are grateful to the ministry [of agriculture, livestock and fisheries] for listening to us and taking the time to read the ‘Under the Skin’ report which reveals the shocking extent of the trade,” said Dr Thomas Kahema, TAWESO executive director.

“Our intensive work to raise awareness of the issues has worked. Now, we need to continue the battle against the black market trade, which remains a significant threat to our donkey populations.”

A statement from the Donkey Sanctuary said the announcement is a “huge step towards stopping donkeys falling victim to the unsustainable trade”.

“The threat to animals and their owners remains while poachers continue to steal donkeys in the middle of the night, and slaughter them inhumanely,” it added.

“It is hoped that the closure of the abattoirs will lead to a ban on exporting donkey skins which will make the illegal trade more difficult.”

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