Reps to ban export of donkeys for extinction fears

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MATTHEW OTOIJAGHA

In a move to outlaw the killing and export of donkeys or its derivatives, a bill sponsored by Hon. Garba Datti Muhammed (APC, Kaduna) was last week read for the first time at the House of Representatives.

The proposed bill is titled, “Bill to enact the donkey export and killing (prohibition) bill, 2018.” Muhammed, in the lead debate, said the main thrust of the bill was to preserve the endangered donkey species from extinction.

He argued that, “This bill seeks, among others, to prohibit the killing of donkeys in Nigeria and the exportation of its derivatives, especially the skin, out of Nigeria, given the depletion in their population and the threat of extinction.

“Donkey has aesthetic, ecological, educational, historical, recreational and scientific value to Nigerians, and thus need to be preserved exclusively for use in rural transportation,” he informed the House. Muhammed warned of severe depopulation of donkeys in the country as a result of the recent invasion of West African markets by Chinese traders in search of donkey skins.

According to the lawmaker, the demand for donkey skin is extremely high because a ‘gelatin’ derived from it is prized for its nutritional tonic, blood-boosting and immune system enhancement. He further stated that by enacting a law in that regard, Nigeria would have followed the examples of Mali, Senegal, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, which have taken measures to protect the animal.

Muhammed decried that in Kano, for instance, a donkey that was normally sold for between N15, 000 and N18, 000 now goes for between N70, 000 and N75, 000, while Chinese dealers posted profits of about U$295 million in 2016.

The lawmaker stressed that failure to restrict the consumption and export of the animal meant that Nigerians would be denied of the derivable commercial, research and recreational benefits. The bill, which proposes two clauses against the intentional killing and/or exportation of donkey in Nigeria, also recommends a penalty of 10 years imprisonment for offenders.

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