Available Open Access

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.

Publication date
Research output
Country

Between freedom and abandonment: social representations of free-roaming donkeys in the Brazilian Northeast

The presence of free-roaming donkeys on Brazilian Northeastern roads has significant welfare and safety implications for both humans and animals. Working donkeys have played an important historical role in regional development and are considered a cultural symbol of the Brazilian Northeast, as manifested in popular songs, tales, and other arts. Their replacement with motorized vehicles and machines has, however, led to their underuse and their proliferation as free-roaming animals. They are, therefore, reputed for their involvement in road accidents. Aside from this narrative, there is no documentation of social representations of free-roaming donkeys in Brazil. The aim of this paper is, therefore, to identify, document, and analyze social representations of free-roaming donkeys through an exploratory study based on 99 interviews conducted in Brazil. These representations were grouped and organized in a four-quadrant matrix that highlights human and nonhuman agencies. Our results show that donkey abandonment is not always perceived as an intentionally negative human attitude; donkey agency and structural and political-cultural causes are also related.

Journal
Publication date
Research output
Country

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.

Journal
Publication date
Research output
Country

Objective assessment of chronic pain in donkeys using the donkey chronic pain scale (DCPS): A scale-construction study

Assessment of chronic pain is very important for monitoring and improving welfare and quality of life in donkeys. Freedom from disease and pain is one of the ‘five freedoms’ underlying animal welfare. The aim of the current study was to develop a pain scale for assessment of chronic pain in donkeys (Donkey Chronic Pain Scale; DCPS), including behavioural and facial expression-related parameters. The scale was applied to 77 donkeys (38 donkeys diagnosed with chronic health problems by means of clinical examination and additional diagnostic procedures and 39 healthy control animals). Animals were assessed twice daily for three consecutive days by two observers that were not masked to the condition of the animals but were unaware of the analgesic treatment regimens. Both composite, facial expression-based and combined DCPS pain scales showed excellent inter-observer reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.98, 0.96 and 0.98 respectively; P < 0.001). Individual composite and facial expression-based pain scores and the resulting combined DCPS showed significant differences between donkeys with chronic conditions and control donkeys at all time points (P < 0.001). A DCPS cut-off of 6 showed good sensitivity and specificity (92% and 82.5% respectively) for presence of a chronic painful condition. Facial expression-related parameters separately showed low sensitivity. In conclusion, it is possible to use a composite pain scale for assessment of chronic pain in donkeys, based on behavioural and facial expression-based parameters. Further studies are needed to validate this pain scale before it can be used in veterinary practice.

Volume
267
Publication date
Research output

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 fi eld conditions validates the devised measurement method.

Volume
20
Issue
2
Start page
111
End page
125
Publication date
Research output

Hoof surgery in donkeys – results of 24 cases

Alexandra K. Thiemann
Presentation date

Background: Donkey hooves have differences in anatomy from the horse; hoof disease is a significant cause of lameness and mortality in donkeys. Surgery is required to treat sepsis of P3 and keratomas. There is little published data and no case series in donkey for these conditions.

Objectives: To determine the success of treatment of surgical conditions of the donkey hoof in a population (2500 donkeys) during the study period 13 September 2018 to 18 February 2020.

Study design: Case series.

Methods: A protocol for hoof surgery implemented prior to the study ensured standardisation of data. A retrospective analysis of case records, treatments, and histology was undertaken; results were entered and analysed in a standard Excel spreadsheet.

Results: There were nine cases of septic pedal osteitis, two were euthanased (22%). There were two cases of canker: one was euthanased after two standing surgeries. There were 13 cases with keratoma-like lesions. These contained dyskeratotic keratin and, in 11 cases filamentous micro-organisms. Results of surgical removal compared favourably with case series in horses, there being no mortalities, and all returning to soundness.

Main limitations: The numbers were relatively low, and the donkeys were companion animals, meaning that a direct comparison with an athletic horse population is not possible.

Conclusions: Foot surgery in donkeys carries similar success rates to the horse.

Keywords
Country
Published as conference proceedings
Publication date
Volume
53
Issue
S55
Research output

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).

Journal
Publication date
Research output

The development of the AWIN welfare assessment protocol for donkeys

The donkey population has increased in the last 10 years, with an estimated 50 million donkeys currently worldwide. Donkey welfare, meanwhile, is an increasing global concern that receives close public scrutiny. However, multiple challenges are surrounding how donkey welfare is assessed and recorded. The Animal Welfare Indicators (AWIN) project is the first project, funded by the European Commission, intended to improve donkey welfare by developing a scientifically sound and practical on-farm welfare assessment protocol. The present study describes the procedure for the development of the AWIN welfare assessment protocol for donkeys: 1) selection of promising welfare indicators; 2) research to cover gaps in knowledge; 3) stakeholder consultation; 4) testing the prototype protocol on-farm. The proposed two-level strategy improved on-farm feasibility, while the AWIN donkey app enables the standardized collection of data with prompt results. Although limitations are linked with a relatively small reference population, the AWIN welfare assessment protocol represents the first scientific and standardized approach to evaluate donkey welfare on-farm.

Volume
58
Publication date
Research output

The human-animal relationship and its influence in our culture: the case of donkeys

Donkeys (Equus asinus) face a global crisis. Their health, welfare, and even their local survival are compromised as the demand for their skins increases. Such demand for donkey skins aims to supply the ejiao industry. Ejiao is a traditional remedy made from the collagen of donkey skins. Some people believe it has medicinal properties. It is estimated that the ejiao industry currently requires approximately 4.8 million donkey skins per year. Although the future of the donkeys is still uncertain, we must guarantee a life free from suffering to the animals under our responsibility. The trade of donkey skins also undermines the cultural role of donkeys. Donkeys have developed an essential role in Brazil, especially in the Northeast region of the country, carrying on their backs construction materials, water, and food, and, as a consequence, helping people build cities in the deepest hinterland. The close relationship between people and donkeys affords donkeys a unique place in the local culture. This central importance has been recognized by Brazilian artists throughout history. We have many examples of songs, books, “cordeis” (typical Brazilian literature), poems, documentaries, movies, woodcuts, paintings, and sculptures, created to honor this important actor. Here we describe some examples of this human-donkey relationship, and its influence on our culture.

Volume
58
Publication date
Research output

Donkey skin trade: is it sustainable to slaughter donkeys for their skin?

Donkeys (Equus asinus) face a global crisis. The health, welfare, and even survival of donkeys are being compromised as the demand for their skins increases. It is driven by the production of ejiao, a traditional Chinese remedy believed by some to have medicinal properties. It is estimated that the ejiao industry currently requires approximately 4.8 million donkey skins per year. Since there is no productive chain for donkey skin production outside of China, the activity is extractive and has resulted in the decimation of donkeys. Gestation is 12 months in donkeys, increasing the risk of extinction if such practices are not controlled. In this scenario, the donkeys are collected (purchased for low prices, stolen, and collected from the side of the roads) and are then often transported for long distances, usually without water, food, or rest. The trade, in Brazil, poses significant biosecurity risks, particularly because examinations are rarely conducted and therefore infectious diseases, such as glanders and infectious anemia, remain undetected. Furthermore, in chronic stress situations, the immune system is suppressed, increasing the biosecurity risk, especially because donkeys are a silent carrier of diseases. Rarely there is traceability with animals from different origins being put together in “fake farms”, before being delivered to slaughterhouses. The opportunistic strategy of collecting animals, or buying for low prices, keeping them without access to food and veterinary assistance, is what makes this trade profitable. Our experience in donkey welfare and the global skin trade suggest that it will be enormously challenging and cost-prohibitive to run a trade at the standards required to be considered humane, sustainable, and safe. Although donkeys are being blamed for the involvement in road accidents, it is not an ethical solution to maintain this trade as an alternative. Moreover, the ecological role of donkeys in native ecosystems has not been elucidated, and some studies indicate they could even have a positive effect. Regardless of the future the donkeys will have; we must guarantee a life with the least dignity to the animals under our responsibility.

Volume
58
Publication date
Research output
Subscribe to Available Open Access