There’s been a lot of chatter online and in the mainstream media about supply shortages and inflation. But we just learned about one unexpected “commodity” that is also seeing prices skyrocket: donkeys. Apparently, there is a global decline in the adorable animal’s population, coupled with a renewed interest in donkeys as “protection” for livestock herds, the price for a donkey has risen sharply.

The majority of the donkey demand is from Down Under, as Aussie farmers and ranchers seek out ways to protect their sheep herds from predators.

So how much does such a prized animal cost? According to ABC News in Australia, quite a bit. The news outlet spoke to West Australian livestock agent Phil Petricevich who had this to say. “In the past 18 months we’ve seen a big jump in prices… It started off at around about $600 to $700 a donkey, then a couple of sales ago I think it reached $2,500 for a good young jenny.”

A jenny priced at $2,550 AUD lands approximately at $2,300 CDN. And in a case of too much information, Petricevich said a few years ago a donkey would only fetch $60 per head for pet food. And that’s not the only yuck factor that’s contributed to the worldwide decline in donkey populations. There’s also demand in China for donkey skin for its ‘medicinal powers’ – yet another animal being exploited for fake health cures like the rhino, tiger, bears and others. As a result, donkey numbers have been reduced by two-thirds in that country.

But in terms of whether the Aussie farmers and ranchers are actually getting their money’s worth, according to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, the whole concept that donkeys are worthy protectors against predators is mostly a myth. Info on the non-profit’s website it makes this clear: “Donkeys are not inherently guard animals, but will fight a predator if they feel threatened. They will only guard another animal if they have bonded with him/her, however it is unlikely that a donkey will bond with a different species. If a donkey is simply placed with a flock of sheep that it does not know, it is possible that it will not protect the sheep against predators.

“Many of the donkeys at the Sanctuary were purchased with the intent to have a guard animal. When they did not perform their guarding duties as expected, they were neglected and/or abandoned.”

Say what you will, but if a myth gives some donkeys a chance at a life that doesn’t involve being slaughtered for a foreign plate or medicine cabinet, then that’s a positive turn of events for the cute fuzzy beasts.