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Working worldwide - Donkeys in the community

Community programme

News in brief

We work tirelessly to reduce the suffering endured by domestic and working donkeys due to neglect, ill-treatment, illness, ignorance and injury. In communities where donkeys bring water, firewood, food and other essentials to the home, donkeys are often seen as an integral part of the family. But a lack of access to veterinary care or the means to pay for a farrier or for repairs to worn or broken harnessing or bits can mean that working donkeys and mules suffer.

Sri Lanka

Since 2012, with the help of our partners Donkey Sanctuary India, we have been working with local organisation Bridging Lanka to improve the status and health of feral and abandoned donkeys by strengthening staff and raising awareness in the local community. Bridging Lanka work with MARDAP, an organisation which works with traumatized, displaced and differently-abled people in Mannar District, to provide donkey assisted therapy to local children.

Donkeys help build future in post-war Sri Lanka

In 2002, Mary Murika was born prematurely in a hospital in Mannar, Sri Lanka and her country was in the middle of a devastating civil war. Her mother was in constant fear due to the bombing, shelling and gun shots. Around the same time the Tamil Tigers were facing defeat against government forces in 2009, Murika was starting school. She couldn’t keep up with the other children and she was admitted into MARDAP’s school for differently abled children, where she received speech therapy, yoga and other activities to help her grow. In the beginning she was reluctant to interact with the other children and they were scared to go near her.

But that gradually began to improve through a donkey assisted therapy project run with help from our partners Donkey Sanctuary India. The project brings together children at MARDAP’s school with donkeys helped by Bridging Lanka, a charity which works with the large feral donkey population in Sri Lanka.


In Kenya we provide vital veterinary care and community training to make life better for working donkeys and mules where a population of 352,000 donkeys and mules exists within reach of our Kenyan projects and we currently help over 200,000 each year with your support.

Training Maasai donkey owners

Maasai women in Tanzania rely on their donkeys to fetch water from wells and transport goods such as charcoal, maize and beans to the market.

In August we visited our partner in Tanzania, the Meru Animal Welfare Organisation, to help conduct a community harness training session for 90 donkey owners from the villages of Terat, Komolo and Losinyai in Simanjiro district. They were taught how to make pack saddles using cheap, locally available materials and how to fit them properly to ensure their donkeys are able to work without pain or discomfort.

By ongoing training, this group of women will become trainers for their communities, as learning from each other is more sustainable. The training day ended on a high note, with the women singing a song in the Maasai language that roughly translates to 'Thank you God for all'.


In Nepal we work in partnership with Animal Nepal to support the hundreds of donkeys that are working in brick kilns, carrying raw materials and bricks around the sites.

Rewarding good handlers in Nepal

This year, our partner Animal Nepal’s efforts has led to a 40% reduction in wounds and a 30% decrease in hoof problems in brick kiln donkeys over the previous brick-making seasons, thanks to a mix of community education programmes and veterinary outreach. Educating and motivating the young donkey handlers to change the way they communicate with and look after their animals has been a significant reason for the improved welfare conditions.

To recognise their efforts, Animal Nepal organised a day’s outing for 27 donkey handlers from various brick kilns. They were taken to a local restaurant for lunch and games, followed by the screening of two movies, Tahaan and The Jungle Book. The three best donkey handlers of the season were then announced, with Kirpa Raidas of Shree No. 1 brick factory winning top honours.