18 donkeys skinned alive
Chelsea Pieterse, The Witness
Pietermaritzburg - The hunt is on for over 100 donkeys that have disappeared from a plot of land near the Lesotho border where 18 donkeys were found skinned alive this past week.
The horrifying discovery of the dead donkeys, which are believed to have been cruelly slaughtered for the Chinese medicinal market, has raised fears as to the fate of the missing donkeys.
There are conflicting reports about just how many donkeys went missing, with some sources suggesting the number could be as high as 300.
The donkeys were found in a kraal on a plot of land eight kilometres from the border between KZN and Lesotho in the Twin Springs area. Just outside the kraal lay 18 dead donkeys that are suspected to have been skinned alive.
The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has recently released multiple statements on donkeys being skinned alive in the Northern Cape, the Free State and Gauteng.
Donkey hide contains a gelatine which is claimed to be valued for medicinal purposes by the Chinese.
The NSPCA statement said that, according to the China Daily Mail, the donkey skins have “anti-aging properties, able to treat insomnia and improve blood circulation”.
The gelatine is a key ingredient in China, where it can produce tablets, tonics and a sweet syrup.
The skins are soaked and stewed to release the substance.
Debby Caine of Berg Protection Services said on Sunday night that the donkeys found near the Lesotho border had been moved around the province before they were settled on what is referred to as “no mans land”.
This raises questions over whether KZN or Lesotho has legal jurisdiction over the matter.
Over 100 donkeys
She said it was reported that 100 more donkeys arrived on the same land on Sunday. She said the donkeys were brought by truck, with the driver allegedly stating he had come from Nkandla.
She added that the live donkeys all appeared fat and healthy, and there was a suspicion that they were being farmed for the medicinal trade. However, this could not be confirmed.
NSPCA farm animal unit manager Grace de Lange said the Sani Pass SPCA reported that the 18 donkeys were killed on Thursday evening. On Sunday morning the live donkeys were nowhere to be seen.
She said it is believed that a metal object is inserted into the donkeys’ necks to paralyse them and they are then skinned alive.
“It is a long and painful death,” she said.
De Lange said the NSPCA is investigating the matter and is on the hunt for the donkeys and the people responsible both for the cruel slaughter and for moving the donkeys.