Global donkey population is ~ 43.5 million. The donkey population in China alone has decreased from ~11 million a few years ago to ~5.4 million in 2016 (FAOSTAT, 2016). Heavy marketing for ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine made using donkey skins, is contributing to increased demand for donkey skin outside China and increased global trade and poaching of donkeys to fill the need.
Donkeys are poorly suited to intensive breeding practices due to long gestation periods, low fecundity, low success rates of artificial insemination and high propensity to abortion and mortality caused by stress. Although the ejiao industry in China is investing heavily in breeding donkeys, this is not currently meeting the demand.
National demand for ejiao in China would require ~ 2.5 to 4.5 million donkey skins/year, yet they are only able to get 1 million/year thus, threat of unsustainable utilization and skyrocketing prices for donkeys is high as demand has out stripped supply.