HYDERABAD: Donkey, the beast of burden and kids' favourite animal from the time they start learning the alphabet, is in trouble. Used by man for doing the most unenviable tasks and loved, hated and cursed by the young and the old alike for the qualities it epitomises like the ability to do the most laborious tasks, ugliness, laziness, dullness and what not, the once most common domestic animal is on the verge of extinction now, according to a recent study conducted by the AP Biodiversity Board (APBB).
The beast which alone was thought to be capable of doing a donkey's job seems to be fast losing out in the fast-paced mechanised world and its end, sadly, is being hastened by none other than its friend - the man - who has dumped it in favour of mechanised alternatives like motorcycles, tractors and other machines for transport of men and material and for various field and other operations. The study found that as the people who rear donkeys and use them for their various tasks like transporting goods, field work and as guard animals have shifted to other means, the donkey population in the state has come down drastically.
Alarmed by the findings of the survey, the biodiversity board has sent the report to the Animal Husbandry department with a request to conduct a special census of donkeys and take measures for their conservation.
A team of the APBB which carried out the study in the state for five months (October, 2011 to February, 2012) concluded that there were only about 20,000 donkeys in the state, mostly concentrated in Anantapur, Prakasam and Nizamabad districts. "We found that the number of donkeys drastically came down in the last two decades," SN Jadhav, member secretary of APBB, told Express.
According to the 18th livestock census 2007 the total number of donkeys in Andhra Pradesh was 49,802. Of these, 9,304 were in Telangana, 15,758 in Rayalaseema and 24,740 in coastal areas.
“Lack of proper care, food and clean water made the animals sick and led to their death,” said Jadhav. Difficult terrain and climate create a tough environment for them when they were kept without work, he added.
Meanwhile, Animal Husbandry department officials said after the central government's 19th livestock census, due from Aug, 2012 to Oct across the state, they would take up measures in coordination with the APBB for conservation of donkeys.