Abubakar Ya’u digs sand from vast, sweeping dunes and loads heavy hessian sacks of the fine, golden bounty onto the backs of donkeys which carry it to market.
Rampant demand for the beasts of burden in China, where their skins are believed to have medicinal properties, has caused prices to soar — creating a dilemma for Ya’u and his fellow excavators in Kano, northern Nigeria.
“Two years ago we were buying donkeys strong enough for our trade for between 15,000 and 18,000 naira (between $42 and $50) — but now to get a good donkey you will require 70,000 to 75,000,” he said, wearing dusty sandals, jeans and a T-shirt.
“The reason for this is the huge purchase of donkeys which are transported to the south where their meat is consumed and…
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