The Role and Welfare of Cart Donkeys Used in Waste Management in Karachi, Pakistan

Shah, S Z A and Nawaz, Z and Nawaz, S and Carder, G and Ali, M and Soomro, N and Compston, P C (2019) The Role and Welfare of Cart Donkeys Used in Waste Management in Karachi, Pakistan. Animals, 9 (4).

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Equine ownership is a common income-generating strategy in Pakistan. In Karachi, donkey carts are used to transport building materials, commercial produce and garbage. This study aimed to articulate the role and welfare of donkeys used in waste management. We conducted interviews with donkey owners (n = 200), households which use donkey carts for waste collection (n = 50) and key informants (n = 14). To assess the welfare of donkeys, the Standardised Equine-Based Welfare Assessment Tool (SEBWAT) was used (n = 204). Collection of waste was the primary source of income for 89% of owners interviewed. Of those directly involved in waste collection, 62% were found to be under 18 years of age. During interviews with donkey cart customers the majority reported that there would be a huge garbage build-up if donkey carts were not available. Welfare assessments demonstrated that 52.9% of donkeys had a body condition score of two. Muzzle mutilation was extremely high (78.4%) and 66.7% of donkeys had superficial knee lesions. This is the first study that has explored the role of donkey carts in waste management in Pakistan. The data demonstrate the sizable role that donkey-owning communities play in waste management and the important livelihood option this offers, as well as considerable animal welfare concerns.

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