Responsible tourism: what are the issues?

There are many factors affecting the welfare of working horses and donkeys, including the size and strength of the animals, the distances and terrain they must cover, and the equipment and healthcare available locally.

These factors vary enormously from country to country and this makes it extremely difficult to set specific and consistent standards for working hours and maximum weights.

It is for this reason that tourists, tour leaders and owners are encouraged to look at individual animals to determine whether they are fit for the journey.

However, there are some common issues facing animals working in the tourist trade. Here is a round-up of some of them; and some of the steps we are taking to address these issues in our countries of operation.

Read about our approach to Responsible Tourism.


Poor owners may allow large tourists to ride small donkeys in order to ensure they earn enough income.  Heavy loads can increase the risk of serious issues like bone fractures.

  • We are helping by... training owners to understand how overloading can harm their animal's welfare
  • Asking tourists to consider their size before riding a horse or donkey

Beside causing fear, beatings can cause severe and painful wounds which may become infected.

  • We are helping by...  teaching tomorrow's owners by performing educational puppet shows to children about good welfare practices
  • Encouraging travellers not to take a ride with an owner who is beating his animal 
Traditional ‘remedies’

While there are successful traditional practices, harmful practices causing great pain and suffering to animals also still exist and are widely used.

  • We are helping by... offering direct vet treatment and training trusted local people to pass on best practice
Dehydration and heat stress 

Working animals need plenty of water and shade to avoid losing essential minerals and salts as they sweat.

  • We are helping by... directly tackling malnutrition and dehydration in all of the countries in which we work
  • We have put up shelters in popular tourist resorts such as Edfu and Luxor, to ensure hard worked tourist horses get some respite from the sun
How you can help?
Responsible tourism

Many horses, donkeys and mules spend all day carrying tourists across tricky terrain at bargain prices. ©The Brooke/Martin Usborne

Carriage horses rest in the shade in Cairo

Carriage horses rest in the shade in Cairo ©The Brooke/Martin Usborne

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