New Delhi: Pakistan has become the world’s third largest country in the donkey population with an estimated number of five million.

Lahore alone has more than 41,000 mules, according to Punjab Livestock Department.

The Pakistan Economic Survey 2017-18 noted that the number of donkeys in the country has increased from 1,00,000 to 5.3 million.

In view of the rising population of donkeys, the Punjab government has also set up a hospital for the animals where they are treated free of cost.

The owners of the donkeys say the animals help them earn a good sum and the business, particularly in Lahore. They are mainly used in carts, ferrying goods and at construction sites.

A donkey costing Rs 35,000 to Rs 55,000 helps earn around Rs 1,000 per day, a report by Geo News, a Pakistan-based news channel mentioned.

"Our business of donkeys here is flourishing. Also, we get good returns when we sell them," a donkey breeder told Geo.

China and Pakistan have been working together on a project that aims to breed more donkeys. 

China needs donkeys to make an ancient medicine called E’jiao. According to Chinese legend, this medicine is a medical miracle. In 2nd century BC, a royal concubine apparently used E’jiao to prevent her miscarriage and her son became the emperor of China.

E’jiao is made by boiling the animal’s skin. The growing demand for E’jiao has seen a shortage in the number of donkeys in China, and that is why the country is planning to export more of the kind.