working equids

Control and prevention of epizootic lymphangitis in mules: an integrated community-based intervention, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

From 2010 to 2017, as part of a wider animal welfare program, The Donkey Sanctuary piloted an integrated, community-based model for the control and prevention of epizootic lymphangitis (EZL) in cart mules in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. Stakeholders included muleteers, service providers, and transport and animal health regulatory authorities. Interventions included muleteer education, wound prevention, harness improvement, animal health professional training, treatment of early EZL cases, euthanasia for advanced cases, and review of transport services and traffic guidelines. The project followed a participatory project management cycle and used participatory learning and action tools to facilitate stakeholder engagement and ownership. Participatory and classical epidemiology tools were employed to raise and align stakeholder understanding about EZL for effective control and prevention and to evaluate the progress impact of the model through annual prevalence surveys. During the intervention, the annual prevalence of EZL reduced from 23.9% (102/430) (95%CI: 19.8%−27.0%) in 2010 to 5.9% (58/981) (95% CI: 4.4%−7.4%) in 2017, and wound prevalence from 44.3% in 2011 to 22.2% in 2017; trends in the reduction of the prevalence maintained in the face of a mule population that increased from 430 in 2010 to ~1,500 in 2017. While non-governmental organization (NGO)-led interventions can facilitate change by trialing new approaches and accessing new skills and resources, sustainable change requires community ownership and strengthening of service provision systems. To this effect, the project raised muleteer competence in mule husbandry and EZL prevention strategies; strengthened veterinary competence; facilitated more mule-friendly traffic, transport, and waste disposal guidelines and practices; supported mule-community bylaws to control EZL; and established a supportive network between stakeholders including trusting relationships between muleteers and veterinary services. To advance the intervention model in other endemic areas, we recommend elucidation of local epidemiological factors with other stakeholders prior to the intervention, early engagement with veterinary and transport service regulatory authorities, early development of bylaws, exploration of compensation or insurance mechanisms to support euthanasia of advanced cases, and additional social, economic, and epidemiological investigations. In line with the OIE Working Equid Welfare Standards, we suggest that integrated community-based interventions are useful approaches to the control and prevention of infectious diseases.

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Evaluation of long-term welfare initiatives on working equid welfare and social transmission of knowledge in Mexico

Working equids play an essential role in supporting livelihoods, providing resilience and income security to people around the world, yet their welfare is often poor. Consequently, animal welfare focussed NGOs employ a range of initiatives aimed at improving standards of working equid welfare. However, there is debate surrounding the efficacy of welfare initiatives utilised and long term monitoring and evaluation of initiatives is rarely undertaken. This study compares equid welfare and the social transmission of welfare information across Mexican communities that had previously received differing intervention histories (veterinary treatment plus educational initiatives, veterinary treatment only and control communities) in order to assess their efficacy. Indicators of equid welfare were assessed using the Equid Assessment Research and Scoping tool and included body condition score, skin alterations, lameness, general health status and reaction to observer approach. Owners were interviewed about their involvement in previous welfare initiatives, beliefs regarding equid emotions and pain, and the social transmission of welfare knowledge, including whether they ask advice about their equid or discuss its health with others and whether there is a specific individual that they consider to be ‘good with equids’ in their community. In total 266 owners were interviewed from 25 communities across three states. Better welfare (specifically body condition and skin alteration scores) was seen in communities where a history of combined free veterinary treatment and educational initiatives had taken place compared to those that had only received veterinary treatment or control communities. The social transfer of welfare knowledge was also higher in these communities, suggesting that the discussion and transfer of equid welfare advice within communities can act as a mechanism to disseminate good welfare practices more widely. Our results suggest that using a combined approach may enhance the success of welfare initiatives, a finding that may impact future NGO programming.

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Electronic instrumentation of a swingletree for equid pull load monitoring: a contribution for the welfare and performance of working donkeys

Equids play a fundamental role in supporting livelihoods in many parts of the world. Being able to access the animal’s welfare, especially while performing tasks that involve high levels of physical effort such as those found in agroforestry activities, is of utmost importance. The Donkey Sanctuary, a UK-based international charitable institution, has designed a project that aims to develop a set of tools to evaluate the working conditions of donkeys and mules worldwide. This requires the measurement of several different parameters, including the force exerted by an animal to pull a load during work. This article presents the stages of design, development and implementation of a device capable of carrying out these measurements with minimal human intervention and with negligible impact on the task operating conditions. Data obtained from real field conditions validates the devised measurement method.

Volume
20
Issue
2
Start page
111
End page
125
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Resilience and the role of equids in humanitarian crises

In times of crisis, working equids can play a critical role supporting vulnerable people in low- to middle-income countries. However, the contributions working equids make are rarely acknowledged in academic research, media reporting, international policy and development initiatives.

This paper explores involvements of working equids in humanitarian crises, including war, conflict, drought, climate change, and natural hazards. It offers ‘critical cases’, informed by document analysis of policy papers, historical texts, and academic publications. In addition, we include results from semi-structured interviews with key informants, primarily field staff working in frontline services in crisis zones, conducted between June - July 2020.

The paper develops evidence pertaining to the role of working equids in crisis situations, expanding the concept of ‘resilience’ to include working animals, and contributing to recent academic discussions in disaster studies and development studies, highlighting the importance for global policy, resilience programming and disaster risk reduction, including efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

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Comparison of the socio-economic value and welfare of working donkeys in rural and urban Ethiopia

Donkeys (Equus asinus) are widely used throughout Ethiopia and play essential roles in a variety of everyday and income-generating tasks for the people that use them. The challenges faced by people and their working equids vary across communities and geographic locations. This may have implications for how donkeys are perceived by the people they work for, the roles they fulfil and ultimately their welfare.

Two complementary methodological approaches were used in this study to explore the socio-economic value of donkeys for their owners and the welfare of the donkeys in rural and urban Ethiopia.

Using a questionnaire, donkey owners were asked about their donkeys, their attitudes and beliefs related to donkey use and ownership, and the role donkeys played in their lives.

Animal-based welfare assessments were also conducted on a sample of donkeys from different locations, with the overarching aim of the study to investigate differences in use, beliefs, and donkey welfare between rural and urban locations.

In both rural and urban locations, working donkeys are critical for their owners' income-generating activity and therefore their livelihoods. The work they undertake differs substantially between locations, as does their welfare. Work in each setting presents its own challenges and these are reflected in the behaviour and physical health of the donkeys. Rural donkeys showed more apathetic behaviour, a higher ectoparasite burden and greater evidence of tethering/hobbling. Urban donkeys were more alert and had a wider range of body condition scores.

The findings highlight marked differences in the role and welfare of donkeys between different areas within the same country, demonstrating the importance of understanding the context, both from the perspective of humans and working equids, prior to staging interventions intended to benefit either party.

Journal
Volume
30
Issue
3
Start page
269
End page
277
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Donkeys in transition: changing use in a changing world

Donkeys have a long history in the development of human societies. Typically referred to as a beast of burden, traditional uses for donkeys have included the transportation of goods and people, use in agricultural and forestry activities, to access water, and provide citizens in low- and middle-income countries a means of making an income for communities.

However, the rise of mechanization, the development of modern farming techniques, and the increasing availability of motorized vehicles have led to donkeys and mules becoming redundant from traditional roles in many parts of the world.

We provide examples of where donkeys have successfully transitioned from traditional roles to new, non-traditional roles in Europe and North America, and demonstrate that, although the roles and use of donkeys and mules are changing in a rapidly developing world, we can learn lessons from the past and apply them to current challenges.

As the need for working equids declines in transport and agriculture, they still hold great value for recreational, therapeutic, and environmentally friendly methods of animal traction. 

Volume
58
Publication date
Research output

'All my animals are equal, but none can survive without the horse’. The contribution of working equids to the livelihoods of women across six communities in the Chimaltenango Region of Guatemala

It is widely assumed that working equid husbandry is carried out by men, and women are often not recognised as facilitating equid welfare. The aim of this study is to investigate how working equids contribute to women’s livelihoods in six of the World Horse Welfare programme target communities in Guatemala and determine what roles women have in their care. Thirty-four face-to-face interviews were carried out and data were analysed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. This study found that working equids support women by reducing domestic drudgery, generating income, feeding livestock and saving time. Thirty-two women played a major role in the care of one or more equids, and overall, women did not feel that they knew enough about equid husbandry. Thirty-one women said they would attend training opportunities if the advertising was clear and they felt that women were able to join. This study recognises the contribution of working equids to women’s livelihoods, describes the roles women play in equid husbandry and addresses the discrepancies between women’s roles and their capacity to undertake these tasks. This emphasises the need for extension services to include and cater for women, improving equid welfare and their ability to continue supporting women’s livelihoods.

Journal
Volume
11
Issue
6
Start page
1509
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‘Don’t put the cart before the mule!’ Challenging assumptions regarding health-related treatment practices of working equid owners in Northern India

This paper challenges assumptions that the health management of working equids among some of India’s poorest communities is mainly dependent upon income, economic influence, or access to veterinary services. Using a mixed-methods approach, hierarchies of treatment practices are revealed through an examination of the ‘lived experience’ of equid owners in brick kilns and construction sites in northern India. Semi-structured interviews with 37 equid owners and corresponding livelihood surveys, combined with data from two focus groups with professional animal health practitioners and the welfare data of 63 working equids collected using the Equid Assessment, Research, and Scoping (EARS) tool, contributed to the findings of the study. Four principal influencing factors were found to affect the decision-making practices of equid owners. Infrastructural factors, community characteristics and experience, owners’ characteristics and experience, and economic factors all impact the belief structures of equid owners. However, without verifying the validity of the treatment measures being employed, some animals are at risk from hazardous treatment behaviours. By understanding decision-making using the theory of planned behaviour, the findings of this study can provide a crucial contribution to informing future interventions involved in the health management and welfare of working equids.

Journal
Volume
11
Issue
5
Publication date
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The role of working donkeys and mules in disaster recovery and community resilience

Status
Start date
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This project explores the (often overlooked) role of donkeys and mules in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis. It offers various examples of how donkeys have supported vulnerable people in times of crisis, including war and conflict; drought and climate change; and natural disaster. Equids have a critical role to play in these contexts, to support the resilience and recovery of affected communities. However, the efforts of equids are rarely acknowledged in academic research, media reporting and international policy. This project foregrounds the role of working animals in humanitarian crises and, in doing so, expands the concept of ‘community resilience’. This is important for global development policy, resilience programming, and disaster risk reduction, including efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The project will include a desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience, and a field-based investigation of the role of pack-mules in the recovery programme after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Methodology
  • A desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience. This is informed by document analysis (policy papers, historical texts, and academic publications) as well as semi-structured interviews with key informants, primarily field staff working in frontline services in crisis zones (conducted between June-July 2020).
  • A field-based assessment of the role of pack mules in disaster recovery after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; this component will include both qualitative (semi-structured interviews) and quantitative (structured questionnaires) tools to gain a complete picture from equid owners, people in affected communities and NGOs involved in the disaster response.

Quantifying poor working equid welfare in Nepalese brick kilns using a welfare assessment tool

Background

Across Asia the brick-kiln industry is expanding. In Nepal, urban dwelling has increased in recent years, raising requirement for low-cost, mass produced bricks to meet the population needs. Working equids (WEs) play a key role in non-mechanised kilns. Assessing the welfare of these equids is the starting point to addressing concerns. In line with One Welfare principles, the health and welfare of animals, people and the kiln environment are interlinked.

Materials and methods

In December 2019, 119 WEs were assessed in seven brick kilns in three districts of Nepal, using the Equid Assessment Research and Scoping tool, developed by The Donkey Sanctuary. The objective was to measure welfare at the start of the brick kiln season.

Results

Horses were the predominant species of WE. Hazardous housing and environments were seen in all kilns. Behaviour responses were mixed. Owner responses and animal examination indicated poor working conditions. Signs of harmful practice were evident in most animals. The majority were underweight, with poor general health, skin alterations and musculoskeletal issues.

Conclusion

The welfare of equids prior to starting brick kiln work is poor, posing significant concerns for the actual working period. Intervention to enhance health and welfare is required.

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