‘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. More

Voices of Animals at Planet Nepal 3

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Kathmandu, November 1, 2014– Animal Nepal was able to make a remarkable presence on the Planet Nepal 3, the festival of arts & environment. The main aim of the participation was to make people aware about the role of animals.  It was the exhibitions of portraits of animals from our shelter, mostly by photographer and designer Nirmal Rana, with their added voices that drew the people to the stall. More

Donkey abuse petition handed over to Federation of Brick Industries

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“Please stop the abuse against equines working in brick factories. They do not deserve a life like this. Hire humans to work not equines, don’t just look at money. Have a heart and stop all this abuse.” – Sita Pun

“If you have animals working for you, it is your job to make sure they are in good health at least. I hope government will activate some projects to monitor health and hygiene.” – Sidhanta Shrestha

“Giving torture to such innocent animal is the example of cruelty…need to stop right now…” – Hema Gurung

These were some of the comments among the 125,000 signatures collected in just two weeks to stop equine abuse in Nepal’s brick factories. The petition was posted by Animal Nepal on Care2.com to raise awareness about the grave abuse by some owners.

The petition was handed over to Mr Mahendra Bahadur Chitrakar, President of the Federation of Nepal Brick Industries, on May 12, 2013.  The Federation of Brick Industries is committed to promoting a responsible industry, and has taken a strong stance against child labour.

Animal abuse is a new theme for the industry, explained Mr Chitrakar, who has agreed to discuss the issue with the members. Animal Nepal has developed a Memorandum of Understanding for the entrepreneurs involved, in which they commit to reject sick, pregnant or handicapped equines and support improved management in terms of shelter, feeding, no beating, no overloading, first aid kit, 8-hour working hours, and providing one holiday per week.

The petition is directed to the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance and Industries, who will receive the petition next week.

Quarantine Chief visits brick factory

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‘This is awful.” That was the reaction of Dr. Bodh Prasad Parajuli, Chief of Central Animal Quarantine Office, when he saw the conditions of working equines in brick factories  on April 29, 2013. The government chief visited Santaneshwor Brick Factory, among Lalitpur’s worst fourteen brick factories employing equines.

Dr Parajuli warned the equine owners that equine abuse cannot be accepted by his Department. He also realized the owners do not possess the required health cards.

Animal Nepal has urged government authorities such as Department of Livestock Services, Animal Health and Quarantine to address the issue of equine abuse in brick factories.

Dr Parajuli agreed to promote detailed monitoring in quarantine check posts and is to activate the Veterinary Council of Nepal and Nepal Veterinary Association to stop the distribution of health certificates for unhealthy equines. It is agreed that a joint meeting with the various government agencies will be held to address the problems in an effective and lasting manner.

Animal Nepal requested Dr Parajuli to strictly follow existing regulations, especially when equines are imported from India, and to improve conditions during the transportation of equines from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and vice versa.

Animal Nepal shocked by conditions in New Bhairab brick factory

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Lubhu, April 12, 2013 – Animal Nepal’s working equine outreach team today was shocked to find a grave case of animal abuse in New Bhairab brick factory in Lubhu, Lalitpur. A mule, which was literally worked to death, died this morning from deep trauma saddle wound on its back. The wounds were so severe that the mule’s spine and vertebrae were exposed.

Donkey Sanctuary India’s managing vet Ramesh Kumar said he had never come across such a serious case of equine abuse. “I am deeply saddened to see the conditions of equines in Kathmandu’s brick factories, and vow to do whatever possible to improve their lives,” said Dr Kumar. Already 15 equines died in a similar manner in the factory since December. Over 30% of surviving 47 equines suffer from malnutrition, saddle wounds, blindness or other injuries.

Animal Nepal’s team of paravets is presently being trained in wound management, PRA methods, hoof cutting and tooth rasping.

Animal Nepal, apart from providing training to equine owners and child handlers, conduct regular mobile clinics in brick factories. The organisation has launched a campaign to improve the conditions of ‘brick donkeys’.

Supporters are requested to sign this petition on Care2.com.

Animal Nepal is a founder of Brick Clean Network Nepal, which promotes a responsible brick industry. A write up on ‘Blood Bricks’ , produced with the blood of countless working equines, child workers and bonded labourers, by Animal Nepal’s volunteer directors Pramada Shah and Lucia de Vries, can be found here.

Donkeys of different sorts

This week we officially launched our donkey clinics at the brick kilns in Lalitpur district. Dr Sudip Koirala, together with social workers Uma Limbu and Krishna Singh, coordinated a visit to Bungamati brick factory, which we will develop into a model brick kiln. Here over 500 workers live in makeshift sheds in an area as big as a large village. Most of them are Terai Dalits or come from other marginalised groups. They are the poorest of the poor: they don’t own land, often don’t have citizenship papers, are illiterate, and basically constitute the large chunk of forgotten people of Nepal.

Among them children, many children. There are babies who rummage through the unfired bricks. And there are children who look after their siblings and carry bricks as soon as they can walk. Our heart goes out to them. No chance to be educated, no opportunity to create a better life than that of their parents. Many are malnourished – the worst start a child can have in life.

Our heart also goes out to the working donkeys. At the Bungamati kiln there are 95 of them, plus a few dozen handlers, all kids from poor families in India or Terai. The handlers are far from home and work hard to bring home a few thousand rupees when they return home in May. One wonders who are worse off: the handlers or the donkeys, of whom 80% suffers from infections, injuries and/or malnutrition and dehydration. They are overloaded, beaten mercilessly and when injured left to fend for themselves.

Animal Nepal can no longer watch the suffering. Even though funding has not yet been secured we have launched an outreach programme for both brick kids and donkeys. Have a look at the documentary on http://www.animalnepal.org/adoptadonkey.html

All in all there are around 400 kids and 500 donkeys working their heart out in ten brick kilns in our district. We want the kids to be happy, healthy and educated. We want the donkeys to be healthy and well treated. Is this a dream that can’t come true? I don’t think so. Already, with the help of individual donations and the support of colleague organisations (SPCAN, KAT) and many volunteers we have provided basic health care to almost 500 donkeys. Some 50 children received a colourful t-shirt and will soon go to school. This week we have taken the next step to make our dream come true.

Your help us very much appreciated.

Donkey Woes

The conditions of the working donkeys of Kathmandu Valley are as dark as those of the children who work there. It is believed 60,000 Nepalese children make a living by making bricks. No one knows how many donkeys are made to carry bricks all day, bearing loads above their capacity.

I reviewed a brick kiln in Siddhipur and was shocked, both with the conditions of human workers and the donkeys. Wounds go untreated, severy ill donkeys are left to die, and some even have their ears cut in childhood. No vet ever visits these places. All donkeys looked depressed.

The same week, a pair of donkeys was left to die at Kushunti, Patan. One survived and was called Asi, Hope. The Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre kindlyrescued the surviving donkey after local children informed them. Thank you KAT and thank you children!

KAT’s founder Jan Salter says in an interview: “The brick factories destroy the surrounding vegetation so there is very little for the donkeys to eat. It appears that they are just forced to work until they drop. We need to educate the factory owners and workers in the care of these long suffering animals in the future. We hope that ‘Asi’ will become a symbol for the future wellbeing of all suffering working animals in Nepal.”

This silent suffering should be addressed. It’s time for all of us to ACT!