Cairo: Egyptian authorities will issue ID cards for donkeys to uncover butchers who illegally slaughter these animals and sell their meat as beef to unsuspecting customers, a veterinary official said in remarks published Friday.

The head of the Veterinary Department in Giza near Cairo, Essam Ramadan, told private newspaper Veto that slaughtering donkeys, to feed circus animals such as lions and tigers, would no longer be permitted without those IDs. “This is also aimed at preventing butcher shops from unlawfully selling donkey meat to citizens,” he said.

The system will be enforced next year, according to Ramadan.

“It is difficult for the ordinary consumer to detect donkey meat, especially when its used in processed meat products.”

In recent years, Egyptian police have reportedly busted several attempts to put donkey meat in the local market.

The suspects have apparently taken advantage of hikes in prices of meat products in this country of 90 million people, the Arab world’s most populous.

In June, Dar Al Iftah, Egypt’s main Islamic authority responsible for issuing fatwas ruled that slaughtering donkeys for human consumption is haram or impermissible in Islam.