Community Awareness and Education Program

DSI works with donkey owning communities to create awareness and provide educational messages through entertainment such as puppet show, street plays, Focussed group discussions, trainings etc. Our community development and Education officers work with the donkey owning communities with the major welfare issues and problems. And our veterinary team provide services and Training and education to the different stakeholders.

THE MAJOR WELFARE PROBLEMS FACING DONKEYS IN INDIA

Communication :

Overloading, poor handling, tethering and hobbling using plastic strings, inhumane use of sharp bits, working sick and lame donkeys, aggressive and unfriendly nature of the owners towards their equines is common due to lack of empathy among the owners. The oud community generally keeps 4 donkeys per working head and is strongly bonded with the donkey as a family member and stories of neglect arise from homes where alcoholism is a problem. The Kumhar community on the other hand keep more donkeys, and as high as 50, and work as labourers thus very low on human and donkey bond resulting in neglect and welfare compromise. Generally wounds are found in these animals as they use improper harness material and dirty harness. Lack of shelter for the donkeys due to the nomadic nature of life especially in Delhi and NCR. Poverty and low status of the donkey owners among the society, lack of knowledge on donkey’s natural behavior and care / management add to the misery.

BCS :

Poor body condition due to malnutrition (socio-economic challenges leading to inability to provide adequate feeding regimen), lack of grazing, over working and limited rest during the brick kiln season is common. In some places worm load and poor feeding contribute to the poor BCS.

Wounds :

Harness wounds are common especially during the brick kiln season due to use of poor harness materials, ill-fitting harness, bad cart designs, uneven balancing and poor maintenance of harness. Harness wounds are seen more in donkeys when compared to mules due to difference in care and management practices between donkeys and mules. Other wounds due to beating, accidents, bite wounds due to fighting among donkeys and sometimes severe cut wounds due to cruel attack on donkeys by humans (trespassing on some others property) is also common.

Lameness :

Lameness is a major welfare problem seen due to over loading, imbalance loading, and working on uneven terrains in brick kilns, bad roads, exposure to stones, thorns and sharp objects, poor hoof care and road accidents. Lack of knowledge on proper hoof care among donkey owners and basic farriery among local farriers adds to the misery.

Other injuries and Diseases :

Injuries and diseases are common in working equines due to nature of work and existing management system. Colic, injuries due to accidents and diseases like Trypanosomiasis, Respiratory Tract Infection are very common. Injuries and death due to accident is common in Solapur because the donkeys are let free in the road due to lack of space to house the donkeys. Lack of proper veterinary health delivery system both in the government and private sectors, even if available owners are unable to pay for the vet care because of their economic situation. Even if present in some places lack of knowledge on donkey medicine and correct treatment protocol among the local vet service providers adds to the severity of this welfare issues. Rabies and tetanus are the other welfare issue seen but the incidence has reduced over the years due to the preventive measures (vaccinations) carried out in all our projects.


INTERVENTIONS AND ACHIEVEMENTS

COMMUNICATION / BEHAVIOUR

Rapport development and continuous involvement with the community has provided excellent platform for us to organise provoking sessions to bring about change in behaviour among the owners in many places we work. Overloading and beating has considerable reduced in some of our working sites. Many Donkey owners have started using either self made hobbles or purchasing to tie their donkeys. Few owners have started using broad cotton straps which are available free of cost, to hobble the donkeys. Indigenous innovative fly mask was introduced in the community in Badli to protect donkeys from Fly menace which was readily accepted and followed.

BODY CONDITION SCORE :

The team is working intensively to achieve an ideal BCS of 2.5 for the working donkeys in India. We have seen some improvement in BCS in some sites but not achieved it in all the sites we visit but are focussed to work towards it for the next year. We implement an approach that involves deworming (showing evidence of worm load) and improve the feeding regimen (advising on better feeding practices and through thought provoking sessions on proper feeding / balanced nutrition)

WOUNDS :

Donkey owners welcomed the idea and show their willingness to adapt the improvised harness. In Ahmadabad we have seen reduction in wounds and the incidences and severity of back (spine) pain. This is evident from the donkey owners willing to pay for the back protector on sharing basis.


Owners are treating the wounds at their own by using local traditional medicines and also using ointments from the Medical Kit Box (MKB’s) by paying for the same.

Community based Animal Health Workers (CAHW’s) now are empowered to treat wounds and provide first aid and also act as representative within the community and spreading awareness on better care and management of donkeys and better harness practise.

LAMENESS :

Awareness among the owners on management of lameness, some donkey owners provide rest based on advice. Donkeys used on rotation basis. Many minor cases of lameness have been treated by the CAHWs successfully thus providing immediate relief from the suffering and encouraging the people for regular hoof cleaning to reduce further incidence.

The services of the CAHW’s and Medical Kit box has reduced the number of our visits to the brick kilns and has helped in benefitting more donkeys and also helping us to reach more donkeys.

Owners are bearing the cost of treatment by contributing the money for medicine into the MKB and this money is used for refilling the box thus trying to develop a self sustainable system.

Training and working closely with local farriers in Badli has helped providing improved farriery service to the donkeys and mules in the Badli brick kilns.

Advising owners to level the terrain in working area in brick kilns to avoid the lameness and prevent falling down has motivated the donkey owners to do these themselves and in some places they are asking brick kilns owners to do it.

Local resources were utilized to address the immediate needs.

Training the LSP’s / Government AHA’s and introducing them to the communities have resulted in donkey owners calling LSPs to treat their donkeys. LSP’s calling us for the advice on treatment and working with DSI in partnership in new areas thus increasing the number of donkeys being benefitted.

Advising the owners over phone to go to pharmacy and buy the medicines explained by us to the Pharmacies has also helped many donkeys.

Donkeys are being vaccinated against Rabies and Tetanus on sharing basis- donkey owners are contributing Rs.20 / donkey in Ahmedabad. In Delhi the donkey owners pay for the entire cost of the vaccine Rs.40.