DINNER PARTY INTEL: Donkeys | Rhino | May pain
The topics you have to be able to discuss this week
1. Donkey export bust
After Niger and Burkina Faso banned donkey skin exports, demand from China appears to be putting SA animals at risk. Police have exposed a syndicate responsible for the export of donkey meat and skins near Benoni. Gelatin made from donkey skin is prized in China as a medicinal tonic, thought to nourish the blood, boost the immune system and act as a general pick-me-up. Donkey meat is also something of a delicacy in China.
2. 3D-printed rhino horn
Meanwhile, a US company thinks the solution to rhino poaching is to feed Chinese and Vietnamese demand for it. San Francisco-based start-up Pembient will print fake horns in 3D that carry the same genetic fingerprint as the actual horn. It plans to flood the Asian market with cheap horns and is even developing a beer brewed with it. But conservation groups are sceptical, saying this may cause poaching to rise because it increases demand for “the real thing”. A synthetic horn will also fuel belief in its purported medicinal value, they say.
3. More pain for May
Britain’s supreme court has defied Prime Minister Theresa May and handed the power to trigger Brexit to parliament. It says government cannot trigger article 50 — which governs countries leaving the EU — without an act of parliament. However, the court also denied Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland a veto over article 50. May still intends to trigger article 50 by March, but the process is set to be longer and more arduous.