Some 1000 equines (donkeys, mules and horses) are employed in brick kilns in the Kathmandu Valley. Shocked to see their conditions, Animal Nepal in 2008 launched a Working Equine Outreach Programme.

Animal Nepal, with the support of The Donkey Sanctuary, now works in over fifteen brick factories, where it organises regular health camps and educates the owners and handlers. Animal Nepal rescues sick and handicapped equines and lobbies with the authorities for improved conditions and monitoring. By extending its outreach programme in Nepalgunj, Nepal’s main equine bazaar, Animal Nepal wants to address the root causes of the abuse and make a lasting change in the lives of Nepal’s working equines.

The Godavari Donkey Sanctuary was constructed in 2009, with the help of Brigitte Bardot Foundation. The residents were all the verge of death when we rescued them. Some are blind, others lame or severely malnourished. After a live of abuse, we provide them with well deserved retirement, including good nutrition and ongoing treatment. Most residents are financially supported by individual sponsors through Animal Aid Abroad Australia. Some are even luckier and are adopted by local families and resorts, where they live the remaining days of their lives in comfort.

Do you like to help?

We need lots of help! You can cuddle or brush the donkeys or organize an education or fundraising programmes. Contact us to find out more!

Would you want to join our Walking with Donkeys programme?

Do you like to spend some time with our donkeys and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Lalitpur? If so, book a 1 or 2 day donkey tour, a unique chance to get to know our residents intimately and help us become financially independent.

Did you know that…

  • Kathmandu alone counts some 125 brick factories?
  • Brick factories are the nr 1 polluters in terms of sulphur dioxide emissions?
  • They remove fertile top soil and extract ground and surface water?
  • They employ an estimated 60,000 child workers and 1500 donkeys and mules?
  • The working equines are generally underfed, overloaded and overworked?
  • 85% of donkeys outside our working area have open wounds?
  • Most donkeys suffer from dehydration and malnutrition?
  • Pregnant donkeys work up to the day of delivery and are given only a few days to recover?

Anyone who pays a visit to any one of the 125 brick kilns in Kathmandu Valley will agree the situation is desperate. Every year around 25 donkeys die from exhaustion in Nepal’s brick kilns that have been called a ‘medieval hellhole’. The conditions of these working donkeys are as dark as those of the human labourers who work there. Horses, mules and donkeys, brought in all the way from Nepalgunj, increasingly become the backbone of brick production, hauling bricks to and from the kiln. There are no laws that govern their treatment, and no government department represents their needs.

The equines fail to receive basic care such as nutritious food, water, rest, shelter, and are continuously overloaded and overworked. Injuries go untreated; severely ill donkeys are left to die. The animals are beaten relentlessly by their handlers, mostly children, some as young as six years old. This project addresses the needs of these animals.

Project Profile

Animal Nepal in 2008 introduced a Working Donkey Outreach Programme. We conduct regular mobile clinics, provide first aid boxes and improved harnesses, and educate factory and equine handlers and owners. Weak and handicapped donkeys are rescued and taken to the Godavari Donkey Sanctuary. By now, the conditions of the 500 or so working equines in Lalitpur have improved considerably. We also reach out to sick and injured equines in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur district whenever we are called.

During the off season (May-December) we run an outreach programme in Nepalgunj, where the equines are kept six month per year. The objective of our Working Equines Outreach Programme is: To improve the conditions of working donkeys, to educate donkey owners, handlers and kiln owners and to lobby for better conditions for working animals across the nation. The programme aims at evaluating the following strategies:

  • Organise regular health clinics for working equines
  • Organise regular education sessions for donkey owners, child handlers and factory owners
  • Rescue sick and injured equines
  • Lobby for passing of Animal Welfare Act and rules for working animals
  • Campaign against ‘Blood Bricks”
  • Promote responsible brick industry and ‘clean and green bricks’

For more information

Watch this documentary about our work or this short documentary about donkey adoption.

You can also read a story written by Pramada and Lucia and then check out this website to learn about a novel campaign promoting clean and green bricks:

Here is a slide show of our work in Nepalgunj and a campaign report on the conditions of donkeys in Nepalgunj.

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