As a result of the unproven belief in some countries in the Far East that a preparation made from donkey skins has medicinal value, donkeys are being slaughtered illegally in Africa for their skins only. Many donkeys are simply stolen, others are bought at a fraction of the price that buyers get for the skins. The donkey plays a vital role in small scale farming communities in rural areas, providing transport of water, wood and other necessities. Thus their virtual disappearance has very serious consequences for these communities. The brutal and criminal way in which these animals are killed is totally unacceptable and constitutes criminal cruelty to animals. Countries like Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia have been active in clamping down on this deplorable activity and South Africa should be equally firm in putting a stop to this cruelty.