It isn’t always easy to for us to give a thorough assessment of a donkey’s welfare status, especially when we’re working internationally and sometimes need to make a rapid assessment of a large group. What kind of things should you look for? The ‘five freedoms’ is a useful way of checking whether a population is ‘free from’ things like hunger, thirst, distress and pain, and are ‘free to’ express natural behaviour. While this can work for farm animals where all the conditions are controlled and known, it becomes a lot more challenging to look for an absence of hunger, distress, etc.
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Alex Mayers's blog
The town of Bela-Bela (meaning ‘boiling-boiling’ in Tswana language) in South Africa takes its name from the hot springs around which the town was based. The town’s baths have now been replaced by agriculture as the mainstay of the local economy and the town is growing on the back of the maize (locally known as ‘mealies’) and other products grown in the area. This growth means more construction and, where rivers once flowed near town, people dig sand to transport to construction sites using donkeys for making cement.
It isn’t every day that you get donkey-welfare advocates from ten different nations in the same room. This week, The Donkey Sanctuary has brought together 32 people representing key organisations from South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon and the UK. And what a week it is turning out to be!
It isn’t easy for outsiders to really understand the lives of donkeys and the people who rely on them. And without understanding and building a relationship with local communities, it is next-to-impossible to bring about improvements in welfare that will continue after the outsiders have moved on. With the Donkey Sanctuary Kenya’s (DSK) team based in Nakuru town, I spent today with the people of Kagoto village who rely on donkeys as we walked in their shoes to see how their lives, and those of their donkeys, are interwoven.