3 February 2022

Gaps in population data put working horses and donkeys at threat

The needs of working horses and donkeys in low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) are being overlooked by governments, according to Brooke. Our research found that many countries are not gathering reliable data on equine populations, leaving them vulnerable to disease and at increased threat from the donkey skin trade.

There are an estimated 116 million equids globally, with 99% of the world’s donkeys residing in LMICs. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) recommends that agricultural censuses are conducted every ten years. However, Brooke’s research found that of 36 UN member states examined, just 14 had conducted a livestock census since 2011, with two having had no census history at all.

Censuses are vital in providing policy makers with reliable data to make informed decisions to better support working animals’ welfare and their communities’ livelihoods. Such data is also essential for disease surveillance and epidemiological research, as well as responding to wider threats like climate change, water access and food insecurity.

In many LMICs, working equids are a crucial part of the economy, supporting people’s livelihoods in a wide range of sectors including agriculture, construction, tourism, mining and public transport. It is clear that governments must address data problems and gaps to ensure that these animals are included in policy.

Read the full report and Brooke’s recommendations for governments.