sustainable development

The XXI century mountains: sustainable management of mountainous areas based on animal traction

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are around 300 million working animals worldwide. They play a fundamental role in human livelihoods through their contribution to financial, human and social capital, supporting between 300 and 600 million people globally, particularly in poorer areas, where animal energy represents a huge and extremely important sustainable power resource. Yet their recognition remains largely neglected, with animal traction being largely ignored by decision and policy makers and even by civil society at all levels, which compromises a real development and improvement of this technology as well as animal welfare. On the other hand, a collective ecological and economical consciousness and an increasing awareness of public opinion about the need to reduce the excessive industrialization and mechanization of agriculture and forestry has led some sectors of society to consider the (re)use of animal traction as a valid modern source of energy. Indeed, working animals optimally transform the consumed biomass in energy and natural fertilizer, which avoids soil degradation and contributes to a sustainable management of arable lands, forests and sensitive areas. The need to maintain biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, encourage self-reliance and reduce consumption of resources also contributes to this trend.

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Mapping the issues of Indian donkey and mule population and identify the potential intervention strategies and partners


It is evident from the literature that working equines contribute much to the sustainable development goals through supporting the livelihood of poorest families worldwide. They are considered source of employment in various sectors including agriculture, construction, tourism and mining sector. However, the contribution in enhancing the livelihood of poor and welfare issues especially in the case of donkeys and mules are under-acknowledged and neglected in the policies and development programmes due to lack of information and data to support their contribution. Efforts by various animal welfare organisations to improve the welfare of working equines have not achieved significant positive changes. There is need for one welfare approach where welfare of animals and human to be considered interlinked to each other, so change in human welfare will bring positive change in animal welfare and improved animal welfare will increase the productivity and household income.


The study will follow desktop review, qualitative and quantitative data collection methods across the regions where donkey and mule populations are relatively higher.


This study is aimed to map the issues of Indian donkey and mule population and their dependents in the broader developmental context to identify the potential institutional innovations to bring positive changes in animal and human welfare.


1) To identify the donkey and mule population, trend and their usage patterns in rural, urban and industrial development context in different regions of India. 2) To specify the communities who own the donkey and mule population in different regions of the country. Evaluate the human development indicators associated with these communities specific to different regions. 3) To identify the key challenges and opportunities that impact the welfare of human and equine populations (one health approach) in the areas where donkey and mule populations are high.

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