Dozens of donkeys were slaughtered and skinned on a dry riverbed between Grahamstown and Peddie in what the national SPCA has described as a horrific battlefield spattered with decomposing maggot-covered carcasses.
NSPCA senior inspector Vonny Strachan, who is based in the Eastern Cape, said inspectors had come across two such bloody scenes near Glenmore in the past month and that some of the 50 animals had been skinned alive after being rendered unconscious with a stun gun.
She said the furs were destined for the Chinese market.
The skins are processed to obtain a gelatinous substance which is used to produce Ejiao, an ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as for cosmetics.
Strachan said the first slaughter scene in a remote area near Glenmore was found at the end of January in a dry river bed leading to the Great Fish River.
“There were 19 donkey carcasses and people had already started incinerating them. Locals said they had been employed by those who were exporting the skins.”
She said the donkeys had been “captive bolted” (shot in the head with a stun gun to render an animal unconscious before slaughter) and then skinned alive.
She explained that in order for the animals to die humanely, their throats should be cut within 60 seconds after captive bolting “or they can just stand up again”.
On February 10 Strachan responded to the same remote riverbed site where 31 donkeys had been slaughtered. Only some of their throats were slit after they were captive bolted.
What they are doing is illegal according to the Meat [Safety] Act.”
She said the NSPCA would hand the matter over to police once its investigation was complete.
This follows reports of a donkey skin trade which emerged in the Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo and KZN earlier this year in which rural donkeys were slaughtered and skinned to feed the Chinese market.
The King William’s Town SPCA also received reports of a cattle truck and two bakkies doing the rounds in Debe Nek where donkeys are being bought or stolen for their skins.
KWT SPCA inspector Annette Muller said according to information received last week the unidentified occupants of these vehicles paid rural youngsters to steal donkeys.
“One homeowner reported six donkeys had been stolen and another said three of his donkeys had been taken,” said Muller.
The King William’s Town SPCA has offered a R5000 reward in a bid to track down the “barbaric” perpetrators of the illegal donkey skin trade.