Amid the rising concerns over animal cruelty across India, donkey meat consumption is becoming popular in Andhra Pradesh.
The recent reports of donkey slaughter from several districts of the state, including West Godavari, Krishna, Prakasam and Guntur, are alarming as donkey is not registered as a 'food animal.'
According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) 2011, the slaughter of such an animal is illegal. Although people who consume donkey meat claim that it increases strength and virility, there is no medical evidence to support the claim.
Donkey milk has been quite popular and hailed as a cure for various ailments, but meat consumption has begun recently.
According to the Times of India, many criminal groups jointly run donkey meat rackets in Andhra Pradesh. While one gang manages the procurement, the other handles the slaughtering and distribution of the meat.
Donkey meat-eaters take considerable pain in finding the illegal traders and then buy it at high prices, often running into thousands.
Speaking to the media, Gopal R Surabathula, secretary of Animal Rescue Org, an NGO based out of Kakinada, said they had received a series of complaints against the slaughter. Since donkeys are sparse in Andhra Pradesh, the animal is sourced from Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The NGO carried out surprise visits to places where meat was being sold and took pictures and videos to submit to the authorities.
On Monday, February 22, the NGO lodged a complaint with the West Godavari district administration concerning the illegal trade at Panduranga Road in Vemavallivaripeta. In his statement, Surabathula also said that donkeys' sale fetches traders more money than meat or milk.
''The state government must protect 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,'' Surabathula said.
G Nehru Babu, the Joint Director of Animal Husbandry in West Godavari, said that donkeys' slaughtering is illegal and stringent actions will be taken against people involved in the crime. He appealed to people to refrain from believing in misconceptions about the animal's milk and meat's benefits.