Footage and pictures of dead and dying donkeys, including pregnant mares and foals, has been released to show the donkey skin trade has reached South America.
The Donkey Sanctuary has released the images, which were taken in a slaughterhouse compound in Bahia, Brazil, to show the far-reaching effects of the trade in skins, which are used to make traditional remedy eijao.
“The footage shows hundreds of donkeys being kept in appalling conditions,” said a spokesman for the charity. “Graphic images include the carcasses of donkeys and aborted foals dumped in a local river.”
Having received initial reports of the issues, the Donkey Sanctuary sent a UK team including a vet to work with its partners the National Donkey Taskforce in Brazil to investigate.
The team also held meetings with government officials “in an urgent effort to address the situation”.
“Brazilian charity SOS animais de rua Itapetinga filmed the distressing scenes and after widespread public anger in Brazil, the authorities closed the facility down,” said the spokesman. “But this month, new footage from another compound in Itapetinga was released, once again showing dead and dying donkeys.”
The Donkey Sanctuary is calling for immediate suspension of the trade in Brazil until it can be shown to be humane and sustainable.
Campaigns manager Simon Pope, who travelled to Brazil, said: “What I saw happening to donkeys is inhumane and sickening and we believe the Bahia state abattoirs are just the tip of the iceberg. This horrendous case was not just a one-off incident with new evidence now indicating that this is a serial and ongoing problem.
“Our suspicions that slaughterhouses have supply pens where starving, scared donkeys are awaiting their fate has now been proved – twice in the space of two months. Urgent action must be taken to address donkey welfare throughout the supply chain from the point the animals are sourced to when they are slaughtered.
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“During our visit, we were told consistently that the trade has moved far faster than the laws needed to keep it in check. New regulations need to be brought in as a matter of urgency and existing laws should be enforced so that existing measures to protect animal welfare are used to the full – until this is done the trade needs to be suspended.”
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