Once they’ve finished eating, hundreds of inmates incarcerated for petty crime at Zila Bhag II Prison in Solapur, India, scrape crusts of roti - a kind of flatbread - off their plates into large drums. The men and women might have finished with their meal, but the scraps are not unwanted leftovers. They are to provide a tasty snack for some fellow residents of the city - donkeys.
The roti is picked up at the prison by Hanmantu and Maanjulkar, two donkey owners from nearby districts. Once home, they spread the bread onto a cleared area of ground and bring the donkeys in.
“The bread is gone in a few minutes. They love it,” says Suchitra Gaikwad, Community Officer for The Donkey Sanctuary India.
Solapur’s donkeys mostly work in brick kilns or construction sites, transporting bricks, sand, gravel and other loads. When their working day is finished, they are often let loose to graze in the town, which can result in the ingestion of harmful materials like plastic bags and household waste. Eating these can cause intestinal blockages from which donkeys can die. Providing safe alternative sources of food reduces this risk.
Prison Governor Mister Kulkarne came up with the idea of separating leftover bread from other rubbish being sent to landfill.
“The prison inmates and staff say they are happy they are able to feed the donkeys,” Suchitra says. “It’s not a big amount of food but we hope this will be an example to other local people so they can start doing something similar to feed donkeys and street animals.”