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We must tie equine welfare to international development
  1. Brian Perry, OBE, BVM&S, MSc, DTVM, DVM&S, FRCVS
  1. Brian Perry is chairman of the Strategic Advisory Board of Afrique One, honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and visiting professor at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield College of Clinical Medicine
  1. e-mail: prof.brianperry{at}

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While real strides have been made in the fight to ensure the wellbeing of equids, Brian Perry believes there is much more to be done

FOR those living in the UK, the knowledge that horses, donkeys and mules are exploited in various ways all around the world can come as a real shock. After all, the Anglo Saxon mindset towards equids centres on a concept of these animals being loyal companions.

Make no mistake: the need is urgent

Not so in many low and middle income countries (LMICs). Here the value of horses, donkeys and mules is inextricably linked to their contributions to livelihoods. Welfare can therefore often have a much lower priority than would be accepted elsewhere.

Trying to quantify the issue

While the roles played by working equids in supporting the livelihoods of smallholders and rural communities in LMICs has been recognised for a long time, the quantification of their contributions is not clear.

Pritchard1 and Brooke2 have both valuably explored the contributions of working equids to building the asset base of poor communities. But they point out that data on the socioeconomic contributions to livelihoods and national economies are grossly inadequate.

Furthermore, they note that what is available generally appears in the grey literature, and is largely unavailable to policymakers.

A vital charitable contribution

Beyond the broad welfare responsibilities of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are a number of equine charities working diligently to ensure the welfare of equids around the world.

These include UK-based organisations such as World Horse Welfare, The Donkey Sanctuary, Brooke and The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad.

These bodies have played an impressive role in raising …

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