In DepthAnimal Science

Donkeys face worldwide existential threat

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Science  13 Dec 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6471, pp. 1294-1295
DOI: 10.1126/science.366.6471.1294

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Summary

Over the past 6 years, Chinese traders have been buying the hides of millions of butchered donkeys from developing countries and shipping them to China, where they're used to manufacture ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine. The trade has led to an animal welfare nightmare, along with a threat to donkey populations, the severity of which is only now emerging. Without drastic measures, the number of donkeys worldwide will drop by half within 5 years, according to a recent report. The crisis threatens many of the world's rarer donkey breeds and a vital means of transport for the poor. But it is also spurring new studies of donkey biology—including how to speed their reproduction.

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