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China’s Ejiao Producers Are on a Quest for Africa’s Donkeys

Workers hold a donkey's hide before curing at a licensed slaughterhouse specialised in donkeys in Baringo, on February 28, 2017. TONY KARUMBA / AFP

In Africa it’s said that “if you don’t have a donkey you become a donkey yourself”. A proverb that is becoming more relevant as China’s ejiao (donkey-hide gelatin) producers look to the Continent for resources.

Ejiao is a glue derived from stewing donkey skin and refining it into a tonic. It is popularly used in traditional Chinese medicine and can be traced back to the Tang dynasty. In the modern era, its use has been revived as a method to  “prolong life”, make skin “creamy” and “prevent miscarriages”.

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