When the Donkey Sanctuary India put up donkey-welfare billboards along highways to reduce the number of road-traffic accidents involving donkeys, they had no idea the agency that owned the advertising spaces would be so taken with the posters they would waive the rental fee!
The Donkey Sanctuary India has been working hard to keep donkeys safe during the off season in Ahmedabad. Here, donkeys are predominantly used in brick kilns but when the monsoons hit from June to November, work in the kilns stops. No longer required for daily work, in most cases the donkeys are set free until the rains pass. With few owners providing shelters for their donkeys, the animals become nomads, seeking out food and water wherever they can find it, often wandering on to highways and causing road-traffic accidents.
In the past few months the team has seen 24 donkeys involved in such accidents. Of these, two died of their injuries and 18 had to be euthanized by the team. The other four are recovering in one of their clinics. The Ahmedabad team has been working with donkey owners to encourage better protection for their animals during this time by providing shelter, food and water, but because accidents involving vehicles are increasingly common, they wanted to raise awareness on the roads as well. Thinking that making use of the many billboards situated alongside highways could be a good way to highlight the issue with drivers, the team approached the agency that owns them to ask about hiring some. Incredibly, when Mr Atul Mehta, the owner of the advertising agency (Chitra Publications Private Limited) heard the plan, he readily agreed to let them use their spaces free of cost! What a result!
Enthused, the Ahmedabad team set to work preparing 10-foot banners in both Gujarati and Hindi languages in the most accident-prone areas, including ring roads and city approaches. The team hopes that by making drivers more aware of donkeys, along with discouraging owners from letting their donkeys wander freely near the highways, the number of accidents will reduce. The agency has generously agreed to provide more free advertising space so further billboards can be put up and the team plan to record the number of accidents now the boards are in place and compare these to previous figures to assess the impact they have.