Ongoing

The role of working donkeys and mules in disaster recovery and community resilience

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Start date
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This project explores the (often overlooked) role of donkeys and mules in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis. It offers various examples of how donkeys have supported vulnerable people in times of crisis, including war and conflict; drought and climate change; natural disaster. Equids have a critical role to play in these contexts, to support the resilience and recovery of affected communities. However, the efforts of equids are rarely acknowledged in academic research, media reporting and international policy. This project foregrounds the role of working animals in humanitarian crises and, in doing so, expands the concept of ‘community resilience’. This has important for global development policy, resilience programming, and disaster risk reduction, including efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The project will include a desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience, and a field-based investigation of the role of pack-mules in the recovery programme after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Methodology
  • A desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience. This is informed by document analysis (policy papers, historical texts, and academic publications) as well as semi-structured interviews with key informants, primarily field staff working in frontline services in crisis zones (conducted between June-July 2020).
  • A field-based assessment of the role of pack mules in disaster recovery after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; this component will include both qualitative (semi-structured interviews) and quantitative (structured questionnaires) tools to gain a complete picture from equid owners, people in affected communities and NGOs involved in the disaster response.

The role of working donkeys and mules in disaster recovery and community resilience

Status
Start date
End date
Country

This project explores the (often overlooked) role of donkeys and mules in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis. It offers various examples of how donkeys have supported vulnerable people in times of crisis, including war and conflict; drought and climate change; and natural disaster. Equids have a critical role to play in these contexts, to support the resilience and recovery of affected communities. However, the efforts of equids are rarely acknowledged in academic research, media reporting and international policy. This project foregrounds the role of working animals in humanitarian crises and, in doing so, expands the concept of ‘community resilience’. This is important for global development policy, resilience programming, and disaster risk reduction, including efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The project will include a desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience, and a field-based investigation of the role of pack-mules in the recovery programme after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

Methodology
  • A desk-based review of the role of equids in sites of disaster, conflict and crisis, including how they contribute to community resilience. This is informed by document analysis (policy papers, historical texts, and academic publications) as well as semi-structured interviews with key informants, primarily field staff working in frontline services in crisis zones (conducted between June-July 2020).
  • A field-based assessment of the role of pack mules in disaster recovery after the 2015 earthquake in Nepal; this component will include both qualitative (semi-structured interviews) and quantitative (structured questionnaires) tools to gain a complete picture from equid owners, people in affected communities and NGOs involved in the disaster response.

Free-roaming donkeys and their role in ecosystem health

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Researcher(s)

The emergence of free-roaming donkey populations globally has brought novel challenges for conservationists, land managers and animal welfarists alike. Donkeys (Equus asinus) are classified as ‘alien’ in sixteen countries where they are listed as being introduced by humans (IUCN-GISD 2020), and considered ‘invasive’ in countries where they are non-native and have potential to act as a threat to native biodiversity and natural ecosystems (McNeely et al. 2001). As non-native species, free-roaming donkeys are often framed as illegitimate and ‘out of place’. In places where they are deemed too numerous, donkeys are assigned labels such as ‘pest’ or ‘vermin’, further entrenching ideas of illegitimacy (Bough 2006, 2016; Celermajer and Wallach 2019). However, there has been limited research on the interface between science, policy and management for free-roaming donkeys, including the kinds of logics and rationales that are used to either support or denounce their presence in different geographical and ecological contexts.

Methodology

We used both qualitative and quantitative techniques to review over 100 scientific articles, which were identified using a snowball technique and key search terms; manually checking each article to ensure its relevance. For the quantitative analysis, articles were classified under the following categories: Publication date; Country of study; Discipline of article; Type of article (field-based; literature-based or management-based); Biome (of study area); Focus of impact (whether impacts where measured/discussed with specific reference to donkeys, or for wider groups of species); Evidencing impact (whether an article measured environmental impact, discussed environmental impact or referred to presence only). All articles were qualitatively reviewed using NVivo (v.12.0) for categorical and thematic analysis as well as critical discourse analysis. This involved the identification of different issues that regularly appeared in the literature, ascribing fine-grade codes or ‘topic codes’. We then worked from topics to themes, systematically coding these themes while reflecting on meanings, positionality and underlying agendas. We also assessed the overall framing of the article, examining the extent to which donkeys were framed in positive, negative or neutral terms.

Aims

The project includes an extensive review of the scientific literature pertaining to the place and role of free-roaming donkeys. We critically examined the logics and rationales that are used to either support or denounce donkey presence in particular landscapes and discuss their ‘ecological belonging’ in relation to such contexts. Our findings indicate that free-roaming donkeys are largely understudied, misunderstood and clouded by dichotomous points of view, different conservation agendas and the presence of other ‘higher value’ species in the same habitats. We identify a critical need for more in-depth, site-specific studies on free-roaming donkeys, using tools and techniques from across the social and natural sciences. Such efforts would offer a richer, more holistic and comprehensive picture of free-roaming donkeys, considering both human and animal perspectives and the wider environment. This has important implications for generating long-term sustainable management solutions for free-roaming donkeys.

How free-roaming donkeys are framed positively and negatively in different global agendas

Status
Researcher(s)

For thousands of years, the donkey (Equus asinus) has played an essential role in human society, underpinning the earliest forms of civilisation, facilitating critical trade networks, contributing to agricultural development, construction and mining. However, with the rise of motorised transport and agricultural machinery, the donkey was gradually turned loose in many places, and left free to roam. The emergence of free-roaming donkey populations has brought novel challenges for conservationists, land managers and animal welfarists alike. In many places they are categorised as ‘non-native’ and so framed as illegitimate and ‘out of place’.

Methodology

This project consists of a critical review of academic literature, grey literature (institutional reports, working papers, government documents), media reports, and communications with field researchers and practitioners. Articles were identified using a snowball technique (Echeverri et al., 2018), using key search phrases (‘feral donkey’, ‘wild burro’, ‘feral equus asinus’, ‘free-roaming donkey’, ‘free-ranging donkey’, ‘wild donkey’). These articles were then checked for their relevance. Articles were treated as both information sources (to elicit empirical knowledge) and as cultural artefacts (Bowen, 2009; Clarke, 2005) for categorical and thematic analysis as well as critical discourse analysis. Using these articles as representations of societal and scholarly discourse, we systematically reviewed the use of donkey labels and elicited their meaning, in order to reveal inconsistencies and underlying agendas.

Objectives

This project explores the social status of free-roaming donkeys, including how they are perceived, categorised and managed. It explores unique case studies of free-roaming donkeys around the world, including ‘wild burros in America’, ‘rewilded donkeys in Europe’, and ‘street donkeys in Brazil’. It considers how free-roaming donkeys are culturally and ecologically entangled within different landscapes, and then discusses how they might ‘belong’ to those landscapes. It finds that more attention needs to be given to the spaces and places that donkeys create and contribute to, as well as those they disrupt and challenge.

Improving sarcoid management: an epidemiological and molecular approach

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Research award
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Methodology

In this multi-disciplinary project we aim to identify the risk factors for sarcoids and to identify specific ‘molecular signatures’ that will aid in the management and treatment of sarcoids in donkeys.

Aims

In this multi-disciplinary project we aim to identify the risk factors for sarcoids and to identify specific ‘molecular signatures’ that will aid in the management and treatment of sarcoids in donkeys.

Objectives
  1. Identify epidemiological factors associated with development of sarcoids by using and enhancing the available Donkey Sanctuary clinical database.
  2. Identify key risk factors associated with development of sarcoids by mapping animal contact, location and key movements.
  3. Use RNA transcriptome profiling and viral genotyping to differentiate sarcoid types and use this data to develop prognostic biomarkers of recurrent/non-recurrent sarcoids to aid in treatment management.

Protection from the elements - part two

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Researcher(s)
Research award
Start date
End date

To expand upon the work done in Protection from the Elements Part one. Part two is focussed on warmer climates and implementing changes to provide better protection from the element for working equids in such climates.

Mapping the issues of Indian donkey and mule population and identify the potential intervention strategies and partners

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Researcher(s)
Country

It is evident from the literature that working equines contribute much to the sustainable development goals through supporting the livelihood of poorest families worldwide. They are considered source of employment in various sectors including agriculture, construction, tourism and mining sector. However, the contribution in enhancing the livelihood of poor and welfare issues especially in the case of donkeys and mules are under-acknowledged and neglected in the policies and development programmes due to lack of information and data to support their contribution. Efforts by various animal welfare organisations to improve the welfare of working equines have not achieved significant positive changes. There is need for one welfare approach where welfare of animals and human to be considered interlinked to each other, so change in human welfare will bring positive change in animal welfare and improved animal welfare will increase the productivity and household income.

Methodology

The study will follow desktop review, qualitative and quantitative data collection methods across the regions where donkey and mule populations are relatively higher.

Aims

This study is aimed to map the issues of Indian donkey and mule population and their dependents in the broader developmental context to identify the potential institutional innovations to bring positive changes in animal and human welfare.

Objectives

1) To identify the donkey and mule population, trend and their usage patterns in rural, urban and industrial development context in different regions of India. 2) To specify the communities who own the donkey and mule population in different regions of the country. Evaluate the human development indicators associated with these communities specific to different regions. 3) To identify the key challenges and opportunities that impact the welfare of human and equine populations (one health approach) in the areas where donkey and mule populations are high.

Assessment of the efficacy of the anthelmintic moxidectin against cyathostomins at The Donkey Sanctuary: analysis of new and historical data using novel statistical methods

Status
Applicant(s)
Methodology

Statistical analysis of retrospective data. Phase one involves transfer of data to the lead investigator for analysis using Marcov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) statistical methods. Phase two involves combined analysis of all FECRT data collected over the three sampling times to identify i) temporal trends in the development of resistance, ii) evidence for differential rates of development of resistance, and iii) evidence for particular groups of animals for which the rate of development of resistance seems to be accelerated compared to the other groups. Phase three of the project will involve communication of the findings to the research and clinical teams at The Donkey Sanctuary, and subsequent discussions regarding the implications of these findings for routine endoparasite control.

Aims

The overall aim of the project is to analyse the patterns of changing drug resistance to the clinically important anthelmintic Moxidectin within the small strongyle (cyathastomin) parasite population at The Donkey Sanctuary. Overall control of the endoparasite population is a complex issue so the clinical recommendations generated as part of this proposed project will be given within the context of a much larger, previously completed collaborative research project. An important part of this project is to discuss findings with the clinical and research teams at The Donkey Sanctuary in the context of recommendations for both routine annual dosing of all animals and treatment of animals with clinical disease and/or welfare compromise due to endoparasites.

Objectives

1) To examine faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) data gathered as part of routine annual anthelmintic use at The Donkey Sanctuary autumn/winter 2018/2019, in order to assess the current efficacy of Moxidectin using state of the art statistical methods. 2) To use bespoke statistical methods to analyse the most recent FECRT along with similar data during autumn/winter 2010 and 2013 to identify trends in the pattern of resistance development, including associations between accelerated rates of resistance development and particular management patterns. 3) To interpret the findings of this project in relation to those of previous projects, and to contribute to the established recommendations for best practice to minimise the rate of development of drug resistance at The Donkey Sanctuary.

2020 update of the global donkey and mule population

Status

Donkeys and mules support some of the worlds poorest communities. This paper is an update to a previously published study. This investigation focuses on global, regional and country level trends in donkey a mule populations to understand how this has developed between 1997 and 2018. Results show that the general trend identified in a previous paper analysing data between 1961 and 1997 is continuing with the number of donkeys globally increasing at a rate of ~1% per annum, whilst mule population are in decline at a rate of ~2% per annum. Results also suggest that the trend identified in the original paper are still evident today with the largest increases in donkey population seen in the sub-Saharan African region and greatest reduction noted in Eastern Europe with these two regions having different socio-economic drivers. This study highlights that multifaceted socio-economic drivers influence changes in donkey and mule populations demonstrating the complexity of designing targeted one-welfare approaches.

Methodology

The FAO live donkey and mule population information will be compared across regions over time to understand where there have been significant increase or decrease in population size and distribution.

Aims

The aim of this project is to quantify changes in global donkey and mule population between 1997 and 2018 using FAO data.

Objectives

The objective of this project is to better understand changes in donkey and mule population distributions based on open source data.

Understanding factors which influence the welfare of working equids in arid and tropical climates

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Collaborator(s)
Researcher(s)
Country

Continuation of previous Protection from the Elements project, to extend work to cover arid and tropical climates.

Methodology

Data collection for baseline study of shelter seeking behaviour in Portugal and Spain, plus working equid owner questionnaire. Collect data on current working equid management practices and protection from the elements (PFE) in Mescal growing regions in Mexico with comparison to communities in Vera Cruz.

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