‘A donkey is not a machine’

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When the Animal Nepal team recently reached Kantipur Brick Factory and found that sick ‘brick donkeys’ were kept together with healthy ones, they immediately rolled up their sleeves. Together with the equine owners, they build an isolation unit.  The team were able to treat over 16 equines suffering from saddle wounds, hoof problems, dehydration, skin problems and/or undernourishment.

With the start of brick making season, Animal Nepal conducted a mobile health camp at Kantipur Brick Factory located at Lalitpur district. The camp was supervised by our expert team of vets that included Dr Suman Khadka and paravets Shankar Sapkota, Tara Shrestha and Hari Krishna Shrestha.

Among the 16 equines treated, 8 of belong to Samim whereas other 8 belonged to Jalalu. When the team reached the brick factory, the sick equines were kept and fed together with other healthy equines. An isolation unit was built for the sick and wounded equines. Unfortunately some equines already suffered from Trypanosoma, an transferable diseases. “The negligence they show in feeding and handling the equines will lead to their poor health and ultimately their death and when the owners realize that it’s already too late,” said vet technician Shankar Sapkota.

Programme manager Suraj Thapa added: “Owners make a living from the equines’ hard work and in return all these animals asks for is a good food and proper care. But some owners treat donkeys as a machine. They almost forget that these hardworking beings need rest and good food and that they feel pain.”

Among the treated equines most suffered from saddle wounds and high fever. Painkillers were provided whereas the healthy equines were dewormed and vaccinated. One of the oldest equine of Samim was found to be badly malnourished. Our team offered some clean water and fresh green grass to the mule. Since the mule had problems eating the team decided to provide special treatment.

One of the mules had an old iron shoe hammered under its hoof which caused trouble walking. Our team pulled the iron and the nails off and trimmed the hoof.

Over 1000 equines work in brick factories in Kathmandu Valley, hauling bricks under tough conditions. This season Animal Nepal will be focusing on mobile clinics, organizing workshops for the equine owners and handlers, implementing education and evidence based outreach, livelihood development and advocacy at national and international level.

Sadly the aging mule died on the second day of treatment.

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