There is some evidence that our donkey welfare messages are being taken on board by a ‘new generation’ of kiln owners. As well as recognising that stronger, fitter donkeys work more effectively, these owners seem to have a generally caring attitude, and they run their kilns with the donkeys’ welfare in mind. This demonstrates to other kiln owners that donkeys do not need to suffer during the process of producing bricks.
In early March 2010 one of our mobile units visited a new kiln called Elhoria 2010. Vet Shaaban Fayez reported that the nine donkeys working there were in good body condition with no wounds from beating or poor harness. Food and clean water were available to them all the time and their stabling included an external yard, which the owner, Khaled, had built himself.
Khaled told Shaaban he had worked in brick kilns for many years before deciding to build his own. His responsible attitude shows in the layout of the kiln, the care taken to keep harness and carts in good condition and the staffing arrangements.
“All workers including the foreman and stockman are constant, are not changed,” said Shaaban. “He pays extra money to avoid them leaving the kiln, because he thinks the continuous change of workers has a bad effect on the donkeys.
“He said to me, ‘the working conditions of kilns are so hard for children, so they beat the donkey’. So he decided to bring adults to work with donkeys, and his kiln is without children, although he pays more money for the adults. But the adults do not beat the donkeys.”
In addition the donkeys only had to travel a short distance with the brick carts between the ‘green’ (unfired) bricks and the furnace. Harness was changed regularly, and the carts were also well maintained.
The manager of our Egypt project, Dr Mourad Ragheb, said, “This is a very good example for the other brick kilns. The message of the Donkey Sanctuary in the area of the brick kilns has started to spread out, empathy and human/donkey behaviour has changed to a good attitude and good behaviour.”
The owner of another kiln invited education officer Yasser Mahrous to come and see the changes he had made after Yasser had expressed concerns about donkey welfare. “When we visited his kiln we couldn’t believe our eyes because he had built a big new shelter. He treats the donkeys very well, and he changed the workers and children because they treated the donkeys badly,” said Yasser. “He has good empathy with the donkeys now. He said that he felt very sad when he sees donkeys tired or fatigued.”
On the whole the team are finding that, where there is an owner who is able and willing to make improvements, progress is fast because that person can take responsibility for buying extra donkeys, changing harness and building an external yard to extend the stabling area.