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Australia’s ponies, horses and donkeys are next on the Australian Government’s live export hit list, facing a perilous journey before being slaughtered overseas for their skin and meat.

That’s the grave concern expressed by the RSPCA, which is today calling for a permanent prohibition on the export of ponies, donkeys and horses for slaughter.

The call comes after it was revealed during last month’s Senate Estimates hearings, that the federal Department of Agriculture was preparing regulatory changes to facilitate live export of equines such as ponies, horses and donkeys.

Under questioning from Senator Derryn Hinch, Departmental officials confirmed that a number of enquiries had been made about exporting horses and donkeys “in large numbers for slaughter”.

The RSPCA understands these enquiries are associated with the Chinese demand for equines. Pony, horse and donkey meat is eaten, while donkey skin is dried and ground up to make a gelatine-based substance called ‘ejiao’, which is used by people who believe it is good for their appearance and vitality.

With donkey populations throughout Africa now decimated as a result, Chinese companies are looking to new sources to feed their demand - including Australia.

Creating this new live export market will mean sending Australian horses and donkeys – that have been taken from the wild, retired from the racing industry, or bought from their owners – on a dangerous and uncertain live export voyage, to be slaughtered in foreign countries under poor standards.

The Australian Live Exporters’ Council has since made a statement confirming they and their members are ‘neither seeking nor supportive of any such trade commencing’.

The RSPCA and its supporters are calling on the Australian Government to stop this cruel trade before it starts, and prohibit the live export of ponies, horses and donkeys once and for all.

An official Senate petition can be found at www.liveexport.org.au

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