According to conservative estimates there are over 100 million horses, donkeys, ponies and mules in the world today.
Now for the bad news. According to the 20th Livestock Census report of 2019:
- The total population of Donkeys in India is 1.2 Lakhs in 2019- a decrease of over 61.23%. This is indeed alarming as the number of donkeys in India was close to 3.20 lakh seven years ago in 2012. This decline in donkey population is visible in almost all the states of India.
- Likewise the total Horses and Ponies in 2019 is 3.4 Lakhs, a decrease of 45.6% over previous Census.
- The total population of Mules is Eighty Four Thousand in 2019, decreased by 57.1% over previous Census.
The livestock census in India is periodically conducted once in every five years since 1919. The 20th census was however conducted after six years.
Alarmingly this trend of declining equine population is not specific to India, but to be found on almost every continent of the world.
According to a report published by The Donkey Sanctuary, UK – the populations of donkeys is collapsing across Africa, South America and Asia, as many animals are stolen, killed and illegally transported to other countries. The Donkey Sanctuary a UK based international animal welfare organization is committed to transform the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for their livelihood.
The impact of this cruelty towards the beasts of burden is bound to have an impact on the existence of millions of people all over the world.
The collapse of the donkey population may affect the livelihood of an estimated 500 million people around the globe, in some of the world’s poorest communities, where donkeys are an important means of transport and work. In many parts of the world donkeys are used to transport heavy loads of sand, bricks, and stone.
Strangely while the number of donkeys in India is dwindling, the population of donkeys is increasing rapidly across the border in Pakistan. Pakistan today has around 50 lakh donkeys and ranks third in the world behind Ethiopia (74 lakh) and China (60 lakh).
Interestingly, the number of donkeys in Pakistan in the past one year since Imran Khan took over.
Pakistan is now offering to export donkeys to China. Donkeys are in big demand in China where their hide is used to manufacture traditional Chinese medicines. Gelatin made from donkey skin is considered to have medicinal properties in China.
China on its part has offered to extend a loan of Rs 42.5 billion to help Pakistan breed and export over 80,000 donkeys to it over the next three years.