Donkeys in India

A better life for the loyal helpers

Working donkeys carrying burdens in South India
© World Veterinary Service (WVS)

Covid-19 crisis: Animal welfare work in times of a pandemic

Some activities and focal points of our animal welfare work worldwide – whether sanctuaries, trainings or mobile clinics – had to be paused or adapted in response to the pandemic:

Still, it is our highest priority to safe animal lives, but we cannot risk the health of our partners in doing so. To enable us to carry on our basic animal welfare work despite the current crisis, we have developed the WTG Emergency Fund. Read more about the fund here

We promise to do everything in our power to continue offering the best protection for all animals – the stray cats and dogs, livestock such as donkeys, cattle, sheep and goats as well as wildlife like pangolins and sloths, elephants and bears. Please support our work

Donkeys are among mankind’s oldest domestic animals. As pack animals and for riding, they are still the only means of subsistence for many families in numerous parts of the world. This is also the case in southern India, where we work with our partner organisation Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS) to conduct regular mobile donkey clinics and provide emergency care, as well as sustainably improve the animals' living conditions through educational work.


Whether the material for a new house has to be brought in, goods transported or sand lifted from the river basin: Without the small grey equines, many things would not work in regions such as the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. However, many donkeys suffer from inadequate husbandry conditions and resulting ailments such as wounds, lameness, colic, and eye and skin injuries. Lack of knowledge about the animals' needs also has severe consequences.

In the south Indian communities of Mettupalayam, Krishnagiri, Theni, Tuticorin, Kodaikanal and Palani, several hundred donkeys live and support their owners in their daily lives. Since many of the people live in poor conditions, the means to care for the donkeys in an animal-friendly way are usually not available. In addition, there is a lack of safe places where the animals can be housed appropriately. Many donkeys therefore wander around and become victims of the often raging road traffic.

Donkeys in India
© World Veterinary Service (WVS)

Mobile donkey clinics

Twice a year, our partners are on site in all six communities as part of mobile clinics lasting several days, in order to ensure basic veterinary care and to carry out treatments as needed. The team of veterinarians, veterinary assistants, a staff member for educational work and, depending on the scope of the assignment, additional staff, carries out, among other things, tetanus vaccinations, deworming and hoof care measures and provides sick or injured animals with pain and/or wound treatment as well as medication.

Furthermore, state veterinarians join the clinics to learn more about donkey care. Since access to veterinary care is rare in rural India and only a few veterinarians have the special knowledge that is so important for the care of horses and donkeys, this cooperation plays a major role in improving the care of the animals sustainably and in the long term.

Donkeys in India
© World Veterinary Service (WVS)

Together with the donkey owners, we are creating an animal-friendly future

In addition to basic veterinary care and treatment of donkeys that are suffering, an important part of our work is to inform and sensitise the owners to their animals’ needs. The owners are always present during the treatment of their donkeys and are informed about the necessity and the benefits of the measure carried out. At the same time, we show people how to care for the donkeys in an animal-friendly way and how to prevent diseases and injuries. Hoof care, which is of great importance for the well-being of the working animals, is also addressed in detail.

Educational materials tailored to the owners

In order to reach as many donkey owners as possible with our information work, extensive educational material was created. Since many owners have only limited literacy, we mainly use videos and a brochure that illustrate the handling of donkeys and horses with pictures and sound as well as self-explanatory illustrations.

Almost every donkey owner in the region has a smartphone and the instant messaging service WhatsApp is a popular means of communication.  Our videos, which we distribute in this way, offer valuable assistance in the regional languages Tamil and Kannada for the correct keeping and care of their animals. The topics covered include first aid and wound care, the cause and prevention of colic, hoof care, tetanus vaccination and deworming.

The illustrated brochure also focuses on basic aspects of handling donkeys and horses. For example, it illustrates how an animal welfare-friendly harness must be designed and correctly put on, how a donkey should be maximally loaded, and what animal-friendly and safe housing for the animals should look like.

Donkeys in India
© Worldwide Veterinary Service

The brochure is used both as part of the mobile clinics and at schools, which are visited parallel to the mobile clinics. In this way, even the youngest children are sensitised to the needs of the animals that shape their everyday lives so much. In addition, the children deal with the welfare of their helpful animals within the framework of painting and writing competitions.

Donkeys in India
© World Veterinary Service (WVS)

The project records visible successes

Since the introduction of the donkey clinics and the accompanying information work in 2013, a clear improvement in the health of the animals has been observed: There are now far fewer injuries inflicted on the animals through ignorance or misconceptions on the part of the owners. While at the beginning of our work almost all animals had cut nostrils and burns, this has changed over the past years and the number of donkeys suffering such mutilations is very low. This is just one example of many positive developments that prove that our work is bearing fruit and that alternatives in dealing with the animals are being accepted by the people.

Our successes of the past years show that we are on the right track - and despite the Corona pandemic, we must not come to a standstill now. Please support our efforts for the donkeys so that the animals can lead a life free from pain and suffering.

Support our work!

We aim at improving the situation for animals in long term i. e. by providing veterinary care, by supporting animal sanctuaries and through our educational work. Every single donation helps!

Donate now

For more information, please contact:

Daniela Schrudde
Programme Director

Tel.: +49(0)30 – 9237226-0

Welttierschutzgesellschaft e.V.
Reinhardtstr. 10
10117 Berlin