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The Donkey Sanctuary working in remote rural communities

Recently I travelled to a remote village down winding mountain lanes over an hour from any tarmac road - to attend a workshop for local veterinary students run by The Donkey Sanctuary Mexico staff. The only economic activity of significance in Santa Ana del Rio is the production of mezcal – a clear alcohol liquid distilled from locally-grown cactus in 15 licensed village pot-stills and involving hundreds of villagers and working equids in the process – at every stage from field to final product.

Mule turning millstone to extract liquid from cactus

Construction in Delhi – donkey power

The Donkey Sanctuary India (DSI) oversees the welfare of some 1500 donkeys working on building sites in Delhi and surrounding neighbourhoods. I visited one such site in Gurgaon on October 18 in the company of DSI veterinarian Dr Surajit Nath. These animals work five to six hours per day labouring to move loads of gravel, sand and cement from heaps placed in the broiling sun into the shaded interior where plasterers await fresh building materials.

A building site where donkeys work

From Ballinasloe to Barabanki

Not to be outdone by our own Donkey Welfare Adviser team that attend equine fairs for The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland, I made the journey all the way to Barabanki close to the India-Nepal border! An annual extravaganza over one week long with some 5500 horses, mules and donkeys walked or trucked from surrounding areas to be traded: onward as store animals (an investment) or put straight to work as pack or riding animals in the fields, on the roads, building sites and in the brick kilns of India and Nepal.

Donkeys being unloaded on the river bank

Frozen donkeys no more!

Many at The Donkey Sanctuary remember the rescue of a group of donkeys from a farm in Tipperary in the depths of a bitter winter three years ago – they became known as the Frozen Donkeys and are now safely in sanctuary care in Liscarroll. The Farms team have done a wonderful job, nursing them back to health and fostering confidence in humans again.

Frozen donkeys no more

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