Last week Tuesday, officials of the Nigerian Customs intercepted 7,000 donkey penises at the international airport in Lagos being exported to China in Nigeria’s latest illegal export trend.
Sambo Dangaladima, the Customs comptroller, told reporters that donkey genitals were found in 16 sacks said to be worth an estimated 200 million Naira (£416,000). The suspect linked to the shipment managed to escape. according to the reports.
Illegal donkey parts export is not new in Nigeria but the export of donkey genitals has become a fast-rising trend since the beginning of the year.
Nigerian Customs officials have reported at least two cases since the year began with the first case reported in March. The report shared that four suspects were arrested while trying to smuggle 2,754 donkey penises and 3,712 pieces of skin to China.
In June, the Nigerian Customs Service said that they had also intercepted three 100kg bags filled with donkey genitalia and 3,712 pieces of donkey skin at an airport in the country.
While in July, the Nigerian customs seized €114,000 worth of donkey skins being smuggled into the country from neighbouring Niger.
What’s behind the illegal donkey parts trade?
British charity, The Donkey Sanctuary, estimates that some 4.8 million donkeys are trafficked and killed each year for their skins. Many are used to produce Ejiao – a traditional Chinese remedy.
Seeing how lucrative the enterprise is, many Nigerians have joined in despite certain unclear government sanctions against the killing of donkeys due to its near extinction.
“The major beneficiary in this trade is the donkey [skin] merchants in China,” says Muhammad Datti, one of the federal lawmakers supporting the proposed law that would ban the killing and exportation of donkey parts.
“This animal is facing extinction in Nigeria and it cannot breed in large numbers because of the very low rate of fertility,” he added.
So far, reports claim that Nigeria has lost over £6 billion to the illicit trade of smuggling donkey parts to China from 2012 to 2018, but lawmakers continue to drag their feet on passing the proposed law that could potentially save donkeys in Nigeria.