A new set of welfare checks is to be applied to mules working in the expeditions industry thanks to the support of The Donkey Sanctuary.
Many expedition mules suffer from injuries and even death caused by overloading, underfeeding, badly designed bits, badly maintained harnesses and tethering.
For the first time, Leader Checks have been drawn up to enable trek leaders to assess the welfare of the mules on expeditions abroad.
This welfare checklist will benefit the thousands of mules working in the expeditions industry worldwide including many in Morocco.
The new checklist is based on The Donkey Sanctuary’s simple ‘hand’ tool for assessing a donkey or a mule’s welfare. It calls for a mule to carry a maximum weight of 80kg and for headcollars and bitless bridles to be used in place of harmful traditional bits.
Developed by The Donkey Sanctuary and the Expedition Provider’s Association, the Leader Checks have been recognised as good practice for companies complying with national safety standards, such as the British Standard BS8848 for adventure travel.
Since developing the Leader Checks The Donkey Sanctuary has run training sessions on bitless bridles for the community, and the first ever major conference on pack-mule welfare has taken place in Morocco with major adventure companies signing up to the checklist.
Glen Cousquer, The Donkey Sanctuary’s consultant in Morocco who helped develop the Checks, said he was thrilled that pack mule welfare was now being taken seriously by the expedition industry. He said: “It is fantastic that the new Leader Checks are now part of good practice. We hope that we will soon see an end to the many welfare abuses in Morocco and that good pack mule welfare will become the norm around the world. With the help and support of all our partners we can ensure that suffering and distress will not be tolerated.”
Improving conditions for mules working in the adventure industry is just part of The Donkey Sanctuary’s work to improve conditions for donkeys and mules the world over. The charity currently works in 28 countries worldwide, with several high profile campaigns in Europe, and aims to reach 40 countries by 2018.