Hyderabad: It seems like donkeys are on the verge of extinction in Andhra Pradesh as they are being indiscriminately killed in the state for their meat. Multiple reports of donkeys being illegally slaughtered have been reported from Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari, Krishna, Prakasam and Guntur districts. According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) 2011, donkey is not registered as a ‘food animal’ and so its slaughter for consumption is illegal. However, despite laws, donkey meat is being openly sold and that too at hefty prices. In order to cater to the rising demand, traders have been moving the animals in trucks via illegal means and selling them for Rs Rs 10-15,000 each. Also Read - Best Interview Ever! Journalist Sarcastically Asks Donkeys Why They Are Not Wearing Face Masks | Watch

The demand for donkey meat is so much that traders are now bringing them from other states like Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Maharashtra, as their population is waning in Andhra Pradesh, Times of India reported. The report cited that the population of donkeys in the state has reduced drastically to just 5000. It also mentioned that several criminal gangs jointly operate the donkey meat racket in the state. A huge network of such gangs first source the animals from neighbouring states, slaughter them and then distribute them to the consumers.

“The state government must protect the donkeys. Law enforcement must save the donkeys from ending up on our dinner plates. Otherwise, people will have to go to the zoo to see donkeys,” Gopal R Surabathula, secretary of NGO called Animal Rescue Org was quoted as saying. The NGO carried out surprise visits to places where meat was being sold and took pictures and videos to submit to the authorities.

Illegal killing of animals is an offence under Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code and may also be punishable under the Animal Cruelty Act.

Why is donkey meat popular?

Many myths and misconceptions regarding donkey meat are responsible for their disappearance. While donkey milk has always been popular and hailed as a cure for various ailments, meat consumption in the state has increased considerably in the last few years. People who consume donkey meat claim that it increases strength and virility, however, there is no medical evidence to support it. Many also claim that donkey milk has high medicinal value as some believe that it will cure asthma and increases male potency.

G Nehru Babu, the Joint Director of Animal Husbandry in West Godavari appealed to people to refrain from believing in misconceptions about the animal’s milk and meat’s benefits.