Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Donkeys to China - Worth Millions??

The media has driven this issue as a plus for Queensland, but the real winners may be the NT and WA, and in the medium term, the local environment.

Donkeys cause significant environmental damage in north Australia. Most are in the NT and the NW of WA. Despite campaigns to eradicate them, or to significantly reduce their numbers, they are still around. Like camels, the numbers just seem to go up, and up. Finding a use and ascribing a value might be the sensible way to go.

Most land owners will take the option that pays, and this time it might - might - be China.

Donkey deal with China could reap millions

22/06/2009 2:06:00 PM

The State Government says Queensland could reap millions from a "donkey deal" with China, that would see the joke of the animal kingdom exported for food and traditional medicine.

Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries Minister Tim Mulherin said China had signed a trade protocol with Queensland authorities allowing the export of wild donkey meat and edible skins for the first time. As well as allowing Queensland producers to get their mojo back in tough economic times, Mr Mulherin said the deal was likely to put romance in the air in China, where donkey skin is used to boost libido in traditional medicine. "This is a great diversification opportunity for the macropod industry because its possible to process the donkeys at existing kangaroo abattoirs," Mr Mulherin said. "Ultimately, this emerging donkey trade could mean dozens of new jobs for harvesters and processors and more than $20 million into our economy."

However, Mr Mulherin warned there was more work to be done before Queensland could claim the title as the ass end of Australia.

Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries emerging industries development officer Nicholas Swadling said most of Australia's wild donkey populations were found in the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. "The exporter we have been working with is based in Brisbane and will process and export the donkey meat and skins from Queensland, but most of the donkeys will have to be sourced from inter-state," Mr Swadling said. "While the signing of the protocol with China has given stakeholders confidence, the next step is to commence trials to ensure the industry can be commercially viable. "Transport and refrigeration costs will be heavy and harvesting donkeys from out of the way places is going to present challenges. "We also need to investigate how many processors are interested in coming on board and if enough donkeys can be sustainably sourced from the wild herd to meet the huge Chinese demand."

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said the animal welfare charity would not oppose the donkey trade, as long as the animals were not subject to cruelty. "There's no doubt there are people out there who really don't approve of horses or donkeys being used for food, but our stance is - as long as the slaughtering is carried out humanely - it's okay," he said.

sourced partially from Qld Country Life

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