On the surface, it would appear the last decade or so in Britain has brought about a heightened awareness of the plight various species of animals are subjected to across the globe. A stark rise in veganism and rocketing viewership of TV shows such as ‘Blue Planet’ would have you believe we’re a nation with a new-found sense of care when it comes to the animals and their survival.
However, new research from working animal charity the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), suggests that while we think we’re all very knowledgeable, our scope is actually quite basic and focused on the tip of the problematic iceberg.
Only 5% of the British public were aware there’s a rapidly increasing problem facing the world’s donkey population, as throughout Africa they’re targeted for trade in the Chinese medicine and cosmetics industries. In fact, 88% overall said they had no idea whatsoever that a gelatinous extract from donkey skins, known as ‘ejiao’ is driving up prices and making more donkeys a target for poachers and traders.
In comparison, over half said they were aware of dangerous trades of elephants (54%) and tigers (51%). Are we at a point where our ability to identify dangerous practices surrounding animals are based purely on aesthetic principles? YouTube videos and Instagram posts of ‘cuter’ animals receive much more traction across the internet than so-called ‘less glamourous’ animals, such as donkeys.
Further, 41% of the British public said they didn’t believe there were any cosmetics available in the UK that contained animal products at all, only serving to highlight the knowledge gap despite those feeling they are fairly up to speed on such issues.