According to recent reports the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has temporarily closed down an abattoir which contravened provincial regulations by butchering donkeys in a facility designed to slaughter cattle, sheep and goats in the Tosca district of Northwest Province. This abattoir is reportedly on a "lion farm."
SAPA takes note of the outrage concerning the butchering of donkeys to obtain their skins for the export market to China where it is used in traditional medicine. The Association is committed to the sensible, sustainable, humane utilization of animals. All living animals are destined to die and it is to society’s benefit if a material advantage accrues from the death of an animal, as long as its death is not disruptive and is not dispensed in a cruel or prolonged fashion. SAPA is obsessive about animal welfare and will take a stand against any person who abuses or neglects animals.
The donkey has been an extremely valuable pack and draught animal not so long ago. Those functions have largely been assumed by modern mechanical conveyances. In recent years a number of lion farmers have started utilizing donkeys as predator food. Any SAPA member which utilizes donkeys in this manner may only do it according to the very strict norms and standards of the Association. SAPA will not tolerate any abuse or neglect of donkeys on the facilities of members. Should a member contravene these stipulations, decisive disciplinary actions will be taken.
In principle SAPA is not against the export of donkey skins to the Chinese market, with the proviso that while alive the animals are well-cared for and that they are killed efficiently and painlessly. The Association recognizes the right and ability of government to issue rules regulating the butchering of donkeys and the proper storing and transporting of the hides.
While loveable, donkeys are neither scarce nor do they breed reluctantly. South Africa needs all the revenue streams we can muster. If donkey hides are valued by overseas clients, we will be remiss in our duties not to supply in this demand, providing it is done in a well-regulated and humane fashion.