' All beings tremble before violence,all fear death,all love life - see yourself in others,then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?' - Buddha.
Ethiopia has approximately 5.2 million donkeys, and they are vital to the socio-economic structure of the country. They are used in cities, towns and rural areas for carrying loads which range from over 100Kg of grain to firewood, water, tef (the local maize) and straw. In rural areas they often have to walk up to 25km to markets and watering points. The heavy loads they carry are 3 to 4 times their body weight. They work from 4 to 12 hours a day, depending on the season and type of work. Unlike horses, donkeys are not provided with feed supplements. Their importance cannot be underestimated, especially for the women of Ethiopia who themselves must carry these loads if the family does not own a donkey. The family’s donkey is their key to survival. Without the animal they cannot transport their goods to market or carry water to they're homes. The health problems encountered in the donkeys of Ethiopia include wounds, colic, lameness, etc. Some ailments specific to working donkeys are back sores caused by a lack of appropriate padding under heavy loads and histoplasmic lymphangitis, which are specific to Ethiopia, and rabies and hyena bites. Donkeys are overworked and malnourished because of religious norms and plain ignorance and poverty. The “owners” of these poor animals care little for their plight, and, in most cases, it boils down to if the donkey does not work the family does not eat.
When donkeys get old or sick and cannot be productive they are left to wonder the country side until they are eaten alive by Hyenas or die of starvation. That is the fate that awaits most donkeys in Ethiopia and in many other parts of Africa.
Ethiopia has approximately 8 million horses. Horses are mainly used for transportation in the cities and towns across Ethiopia, they are also used to transport people and goods. Gharry horses (taxi horses) are the main source of affordable transportation of goods and people over short and mid term distances in many parts of Ethiopia. The overall condition of the horses is poor with the horses suffering from many of the common problems suffered by working equines in developing countries.
Undernourished, dehydrated and severely lame, they have harness sores and worm burdens and are continually tormented by flies. Horses, along with donkeys, are the most neglected domestic animals and have been accorded a very low social status, particularly the males.
Horses involved in pulling carts often work continuously for 6 to 7 hours a day , carryin g 3 to 4 persons (195 -260 kg) in a single trip. They are allowed to graze on pasture in the town fringe during the day. They are brutally treated, made to work overtime without adequate feed or health care. They also suffer from parasitic infestation and blindness and are often involved in accidents, but, with little to no health coverage, their life expectancy is a fraction of those in western countries. Like the donkey, when old or unable to work, horses are abandoned and left to die of starvation or be eaten alive by Hyenas.
The International Fund for Africa is determined to alleviate the suffering of these working animals. Because of economic necessities and cultural norms complete emancipation of these animals will not happen anytime soon. However, IFA believes that educating people in Africa to have compassion for animals is the first step toward emancipation, especially if emphasis is placed on teaching the younger generation on the importance of according moral rights to animals. We are also working to create donkey/horse sanctuaries in Ethiopia, to give homes to those that have been abandoned to die brutally after giving their whole lives to serving human beings.
You can help us help these magnificent creatures.
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