Half the world's donkey's could be killed over the next 5 years
More than half the world's donkey population could be wiped out in five years due to rising demand in traditional Chinese medicine.
Nearly five million skins are used every year to make ejiao, a gel believed to be a health remedy, putting enormous strain on donkey populations around the world.
It is thought that ejiao, which was once the preserve of emperors but is now sought after by the middle classes, can help cure anything from colds to ageing.
Production of the substance has been growing 20 percent each year between 2013 and 2016, Donkey Sanctuary said.
However China's donkey population has collapsed by 76 per cent since 1992 and the country now mainly imports skins from traders in South America, Africa and Asia.
There are currently around 45.8 million donkeys in the world, Donkey Sanctuary said.
The donkey skin trade has resulted in 'suffering on an enormous and unacceptable scale', the group's chief executive Mike Baker said in a statement.
Researchers found examples of unhygienic and inhumane processing conditions, including donkeys being bludgeoned on the head at one slaughterhouse in Tanzania while still conscious and restrained.
Currently, no western nation has imposed a ban on the shipment of ejiao into its territories, making us all party to this inhumane and tortoreous exterminiation of one of the world's most gentle and friendly creautures.