While it is evident that donkeys play a very significant role in the community livelihoods especially in the developing countries, there is negligible attention given to these animals in many of the government production and veterinary systems. In many parts of the country, donkeys are a source of income and trade; they are often used as ambulances for expecting mothers; they can be used for ploughing and recently have been of great interest as food in some communities.
While the above list does not exhaust all benefits communities derive from donkeys, they are unfortunately either neglected or simply perceived to be hardy and stoic animals that warrant little attention. This attitude coupled with the generally passive animal care particularly on the African continent, condemns donkeys to the worst level of welfare throughout their lives. It is therefore imperative to draw the communities’ attention to the plight of the donkeys, to address some of the most obvious welfare concerns and bring the donkey back to the attention of the extension and veterinary officers that serve the community.
ALL CREATURES supports donkey welfare as a strategic through engaging the communities and transferring beneficial technology to allow them serve the community more comfortably, reduce many of the animal welfare issues to an ethically acceptable level and engage government in the establishment of a conducive policy on draught animals that recognises their role to the country as well as the need for more adequate extension services to donkey farmers.
Specific activities include the training of farmers in appropriate donkey husbandry tailored to existing conditions; the provision of veterinary services for those that need critical care, lobbying for the implementation of the World Animal Health Organisation terrestrial code for donkeys but most importantly advance the introduction of proper donkey harnesses and carts and avoid the use of ox yokes which have negative implications to the donkeys. The process requires the engagement of the farmers and the extension staff at the village level and the district and Ministry at the national level. This programme clearly requires social works skills, community mobilisation, veterinary, agro-business and various other social and networking strengths.
Any individuals with a great passion and wishing to make a difference to the state of donkeys in Africa or feels that they have the right skills on how donkeys could best be utilised in the communities may contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting involved.