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The Endangered Donkey

BY EARTHFIRST

I was recently surprised to find out that Donkeys are endangered. If you’re like me you’re probably going to be a little surprised also. Whilst I personally find them more endearing than horses, for most people their popularity rating is not all that high.

In many cultures they have often been represented in a negative light because they are know to be a little on the stubborn side. This is however a little bit of a misunderstanding because they do happen to have stronger personalities than other domesticated animals; such as the horse and they need to earn their owners trust before complying. They are in fact, wonderful companions who dislike being alone, are generally well natured, friendly, playful, hardworking and dependable.

The Donkey, Ass, burro or Jackstock as they are often known belong to horse family and originated from the African wild ass. They can live for up to 35 years.

Donkeys have been used as working animals for over 5000 years to carry heavy loads, and to guard heards of sheep, goats and young cows against canine predators.

Whilst their roles in agriculture and transportation were highly valued in past times, over the last two decades their populations have drastically declined and are now regarded as endangered species.

In Greece the number of donkeys has declined by 96.4%, from 508,000 to 18,173, between 1955 and 2006 and is still falling.

Luckily there are a few dedicated Donkey lovers sprinkled throughout the world who have set up sanctuaries to help increase their dwindling numbers. In some towns throughout Spain the government will actually provide farmers with financial support to keep Donkeys in the hope that populations can me maintained.

Now days, they are primarily kept as pets and also used in some trekking or leisure activities. Their milk is also used for some niche health markets as well as cosmetics. In places like Croatia their meat is also eaten.

The donkey has long been represented in texts by Homer and the Bible as well as represented in artworks in Ancient Egypt, there is no doubt that its importance of value in history, the question is whether it’s as valued today? Now that the tasks that they traditionally performed have been replaced by machines their importance in society has decreased along with their numbers.

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