Working donkeys are the lifeblood of rural economics in many developing countries, serving important roles in transportation and labour. However, major welfare issues often arise due to lack of access to veterinary care and extremely challenging working environments. In India, they are usually used for carrying sand from the river bed, transporting wood and other goods along hilly terrains and carrying loads of washed and unwashed clothes.
In India, sadly, few owners have access to veterinary advice or treatment. Availability of qualified government veterinarians or vets with proper training in equine medicine is also scarce. As a result, many owners rely on traditional medicines and unconventional techniques which are often inappropriate and cause welfare issues themselves; for example, ‘firing’ which involves causing burns to the skin with hot irons or corrosive substances in the mistaken belief that this will cure underlying problems. Similarly, slitting of nostrils to improve breathing while going uphill, tipping of the ears to remove infected blood when the donkey is suffering an illness and ear cropping for identification and beautification are some of the cruelties inflicted upon donkeys by their owners out of ignorance.
The poor condition of the roads they walk on, the heavy burdens they bear or pull, the makeshift harness and carriages, combined with inadequate feed and medical attention contribute to a life of misery for many donkeys in India. These situations can be avoided with good veterinary care, creating awareness and building a good rapport with the owners. This responsibility has fallen to the WVS team who are committed to championing the abused donkeys. We are working in association and with the valuable support of our partners WTG.
Objectives of the workshops:
To improve the health and welfare of working equines in the communities surrounding the International Training Centre in Ooty through the provision of emergency treatments, first aid and preventative healthcare.
To assess the donkey population in South India and also develop a complete data base of donkeys and donkey owners using WVS smart phone data collection application.
To assess the welfare condition of working donkeys and the community and to study the social status of communities working with donkeys.
To prevent cruelty to donkeys by educating owners on humane animal welfare practices such as better harnessing and proper disease prevention. By educating the owners on animal welfare techniques and providing the donkeys with the veterinary care and attention they need, the project aims to drastically improve their day-to-day life.
To identify and train a local resource person for future communication and emergency services at every village.
To organise routine health checks of donkeys in and around the camp sites
To reduce the number of animals and people injured through road traffic accidents by supplying fluorescent, reflective collars to donkey owners for their animals that free roam on busy roads during dusk and night time.
To study major diseases prevalent among donkeys in South India in association with the National Research Centre on Equines, Haryana.
To carry out treatments on injured animals and perform field castrations to reduce the number of animals injured due to males fighting during breeding season.
Camps will be held at the following locations - each trip will last 10 days in duration in total:
- August 2016: Tuticorin
- September 2016: Theni
- October 2016: Maharashtra
- November 2016: Ooty camp
- December 2016: Ooty camp
- January 2017: Krishnagiri – survey has indicated a total of 509 donkeys in the areas (belonging to 86 owners)
- February 2017: Mettupalayam
- March 2017: Tuticorin
- April 2017: Ooty and Mysore camp with Farrier
- May 2017: Pondichery (clinic to follow on from census held in July 2016)
Accomodation is charged at 100 pounds per week this includes transfers and food.
What to pack
Volunteers should take practical / comfortable clothes to work in e.g (scrubs). If you would like to purchase a WVS scrub top please contact the office or visit our online shop.
- Practical / comfortable clothes to work in (eg. scrubs)
- Wet weather gear and warm clothing for the evenings
- Bug spray
- Ear plugs and eye mask
- Prescriptions & over-the-counter medication (eg. Imodium, Paracetemol etc)
The project may be extremely short on certain supplies and would likely be very grateful for donations. Please get in touch with us to find out if there is anything in particular that would be helpful to bring with you. If you have any spare room in your bag on the outbound flight, it would be highly appreciated if you are able to bring some spare supplies to use during your trip. This is at your discretion and entirely optional.
It is essential that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance for this project which also covers you for veterinary work. We recommend Go Walkabout who offer tailor made travel insurance policies for WVS volunteers. Please note that fully paid members of WVS also receive a 10% discount on Go Walkabout policies.
Health & Vaccinations
This information should be used as a guide only. For up to date information on immunisations please consult your doctor. You will need to allow plenty of time before travelling for your immunisations to be effective. DO NOT LEAVE THIS UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. As you will be working with animals the Rabies and Tetanus vaccines are essential. We have provided links below to websites with useful information on immunisations and travel advice which we highly recommend that you visit.
- www.fco.gov.uk - Website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for travel advice generally and specifically by Country.
- www.lonelyplanet.com - For help travel advice
- www.nathnac.org - Useful information on immunisations required for travel
- www.mdtravelhealth.com - Helpful travel advice website, updated daily.
UK passport holders are required to obtain a visa before travelling. Please visit the Foreign Commonwealth Office website for further details: www.fco.gov.uk. All WVS volunteers are required to organise their own visas.
There are trip dates available throughout the year. Please speak to a member of the team on +44 (0)1725 557225.
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Benefits of volunteering with WVS
By volunteering with WVS you are making a huge difference to the lives of animals and communities around the world. As a WVS volunteer, you will also receive: