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Donkey population dips by 62%, Brooke India raises alarm

Dec 18, 2019

Brooke India raises alarm over the steep decline in the population of donkeys as revealed by the Livestock Census 2019.

Ghaziabad: Brooke India, a nonprofit working for the welfare of equines, have raised an alarm over the steep decline in the donkey population across the country.

The non profit raised the alarm during a media sensitisation workship organised in New Delhi.

Quoting figures from the Livestock Census 2019 (provisional data), Brooke India raised concerns over the alarming decline in the population of donekys especially the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

According the census, the donkey population has gone down rapidly, by almost 62%, between 2012 and 2019, that is down from 3.2 lakh to 1.2 lakh.

The Livestock Census reports that Uttar Pradesh, has seen the biggest fall in donkey population, by 72%,among all the states. Followed by Rajasthan (71%), Gujarat (70%), Andhra Pradesh (53%), Bihar (47%) and Maharashtra (39%).

The findings were shared by Brooke India as part of an initiative to enable media to capture the issues concerning welfare of working equines and the developmental needs of the equine owning community, who are from the underprivileged and marginalised strata of society.

Brooke India conducted a Media Sensitisation Workshop at its Head office, in Sahibabad near Delhi. The purpose of the workshop was to pave the way for enhancing interest in this niche subject and enable larger policy interventions in and around equine welfare in India.

The media sensitisation workshop was essentially designed to bring to the forefront the multitude of issues of working equines; thereby creating a constructive dialogue, which would evince various approaches to address them.

Brig Jyothikumar Dharmadheeran, Country Director, Brooke India underscored the fact that the contribution of working equines to the economy is generally understated and rarely considered newsworthy. This was in contradiction to the fact that working equines in this country constitute more than 90% of the net equine population. “They are the main source of livelihood to a significant but marginalised segment of the Indian society. Animal husbandry policies are generally formulated to favour production livestock, often leaving equines behind in the discourse of policy discussions,” he said.

The attention of the media was then drawn to the recently released data of the livestock census 2019, wherein the Indian equine population figures had decreased considerably, especially those of donkeys.

Though mechanisation of transport could be attributed as a factor in the declining employability of working equines, the 62% fall in donkey population was actually a cause of serious concern, keeping in view the emerging demand of donkey hide in Chinese markets for the production of Ejiao.

This horrendous demand for ejiao has already decimated a large portion of the world’s donkey population. It was felt that this situation warranted further investigation in the Indian context.

Dr Vijay Malla, Team Leader Extension & Training, Brooke India, briefed the participants’ about Five Freedoms framework for animal welfare, BI’s approach to Veterinary Service Provision-Affordable, Acceptable, Accessible, Available, Quality (AAAAQ), and BI’s focus on capacity building of local animal health service providers in the field.

Dr S F Zaman, one of the Heads of Region Programmes, Brooke India shared his perspective on the nonprofit’s work beyond animal welfare, touching upon community engagement and livelihood interventions.

Zaman revealed how BI has been working towards human behavioural change through programmatic approaches to equine owning communities. He highlighted the fact that in the contribution of working equines in the country’s economy, more than 70% of working equines were employed in the brick kiln industry. “BI therefore worked with brick kiln owners and the equine owning community in improving the welfare issues of working equines and the community as a whole, both of whom were otherwise, often neglected,” he said.

Journalists, representatives from animal welfare organisations with interest in rural development, environment issues and animal welfare organisations also participated in the seminar.

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