Apparently, donkey meat is the new viagra in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where illegal trade of the ass’s meat is thriving.
While tiger penises are commonly considered aphrodisiacs in many Asian countries, some Indians now reportedly believe that even donkey meat can boost their sex drive, as well as cure breathing problems like asthma. Wildlife experts believe that these recent superstitions around donkey meat have led to a rapid decline in their populations.
According to animal activists, donkeys are illegally smuggled into Andhra Pradesh from states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, and sold on the sly in the districts of Krishna, West Godavari, Guntur and Prakasam. While a donkey can be bought for anywhere between Rs 10,000 to 20,000 ($137 to $274), a kilogram of its meat is sold for Rs 600 (about $8). Donkey meat is known as “poopy” according to local slang.
According to what animal welfare activist Gopal R. Surabathula told media houses, these markets take place every Thursday and Sunday, with at least 100 donkeys being slaughtered on each occasion. Donkey meat is not included in the “animal food” category of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s Food Safety and Standards, 2011, which makes both, its slaughter and consumption illegal.
The “poopy” is allegedly also regularly disguised as beef and mutton and sold off to unsuspecting market visitors. The donkey hide is then sent to Chinese markets, where it is said to have a huge demand.
This isn’t the first time the issue of donkey meat being sold under false beliefs has cropped up. Officials in states including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka had raised similar concerns over the illegal trade of donkey meat in 2017 and 2018.
There are various superstitions attached to the consumption of donkey meat. According to ancient Chinese medicine, eating “poopy” can increase virility and sex drive since it is low in fat and cholesterol.
According to a 2019 report from British charitable organisation Donkey Sanctuary, an estimated 4.8 million donkey hides are needed to meet the demand for ejiao, a gelatin-based Chinese traditional medicine. The report also warned that the trade of donkeys would halve its current population of 44 million in the next five years. In India, the demand for donkeys in the Chinese market has led to their population decreasing by over 60 percent in the last decade.
According to some animal rights activists, the tradition of eating donkey meat in India originates from the Stuartpuram area in AP’s Prakasam district, an area historically known for housing notorious thieving gangs. The unverified claim probably sprung from the myth that drinking donkey blood can improve a person’s sprinting ability, a theory that thieves on the run began to believe. Today, some fishermen are also reported to be drinking donkey blood before setting off to cast their nets in the Bay of Bengal off the coast in Prakasam district. In the Tollywood movie Krack, actors Ravi Teja and Shruti Haasan courted controversy after they were shown drinking donkey blood before sprinting.