‘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

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.

Animal Nepal honours ‘clean and green’ brick producer

Kathmandu, January 27, 2011 – Animal Nepal today honoured Mr Indra Tuladhar from Bungamati Itha Udyog for producing ‘clean and green’ bricks using Chinese technology. The animal welfare organization urges other brick producers to follow the example and eliminate environmental pollution as well as the exploitation of working children and equines. “The industry has the technology and the resources to stop the production of ‘blood bricks’; all it needs is the right kind of motivation,” said Krishna Singh, programme manager at Animal Nepal.

Animal Nepal’s gesture is supported by Dutch Party for the Animals member Martin Schoenmakers. Together with Animal Nepal Volunteer Director Lucia de Vries he offered a certificate and gifts to the clean bricks producer.  

The Bungamati brick factory in 2019 introduced Chinese automated brick making machinery. Instead of being seasonal the factory now produces bricks all year round and no longer employs migrant workers, children and donkeys. The bricks are transported by electric carts. Although the process is not yet completely environmentally friendly, there is a great reduction in emissions. Bungamati Itha Udyog is one of the three factories in Nepal using this technology.

Enterpreneur Tuladhar was motivated to clean up his factory when learning about the new technology. He says the brick industry suffers from labour problems, animal abuse and environmental pollution. The contracted workers at the improved kiln earn a fixed salary and no longer face hazardous work conditions.

Animal Nepal since 2008 reaches out to around 500 equines (mostly donkeys) working in brick kilns in Kathmandu Valley. There is relentless pressure to over-work and overload animals. Life expectancy for these animals is short and most donkeys suffer from serious health conditions problems.

In order to help make buyers make the rights choices, a network of NGOs active in environmental protection, children’s rights and animal welfare, including Animal Nepal, have joined hands to promote a responsible brick-making industry. They are introducing a certification system that will provide brick factories with a red, orange or green label.

Animal Nepal urges the brick industry to clean up its act and stop the production of ‘blood bricks’. “Brick kilns are the number one polluters in the Valley and employ countless children and donkeys to do the dirty work. Both issues can be addressed by introducing new technologies such as Vertical Shaft Brick Kilns or automated machinery,” says Krishna Singh.