EFEOuagadougou

Burkina Faso authorities banned donkey exports to China, a government spokesman told EFE on Thursday.

The move was made to avoid the species' depletion, following an increase in exports to countries where donkey hides have highly esteemed medicinal properties.

The culling and export of donkeys to China grew exponentially in the past year after a record-braking 65,000 donkey hides were sold to the Asian giant.

As a result of a surge in demand, the price of a donkey hide shot from 2.000 Francs CFA ($3.40) to 50,000 ($85), or 25 times its prior value.

"This number only accounts for the state-controlled abattoirs," explained Christophe Bazie, a technical specialist from the Ministry of the Environment.

Bazie works in Balole, a municipality 25km away from Ouagadougou, where the pungent stench and the pollution of water wells as a result of the "massacre" of hundred of donkeys in private slaughterhouses provoked a wave of complaints among its population.

"When the air became nearly unbreathable and the people began to protest, we went to the abattoir and we found donkeys, some famished and others at death's door as they tried to give birth," confessed Bazie, adding that the scene was "horrific."

To avoid over-exploitation, the Burkina Faso government has issued a decree regulating the killing and export of these animals along with "all its associated produce."

The Ministry of Animal Resources has also forbidden the sale of horse and camel hides.

"With this decision, the government shows its resolve to protect these species," said the Ministry's Chief Veterinary Adama Maiga.