NEW DELHI:It is not just the tiger that is becoming rare, the declining population of the humble donkey has set alarming bells ringing for the government, which is mulling starting a conservation breeding programme for them.
The government’s Livestock Census released in 2014 showed the donkey population is down to 319,000, from 438,000 in 2007—the highest downfall of 27.22 per cent, among all livestock.
Donkeys have always been used, even by the Army as draught and pack animals, especially in hilly and difficult terrains. The government believes the decrease in their population could pose a serious problem.
The Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries has started work on the conservation of indigenous breeds of donkeys by perfecting artificial insemination and embryo transfer technology and ensure genetic purity.
The declining population of donkeys has set alarming bells ringing for the government, which is mulling starting a conservation breeding programme for them.
“There are no recognised breeds of donkeys. No steps are being taken to ensure the purity of the breeds and for their genetic improvement and conservation,” said a government official.
The National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources in collaboration with National Research Centre on Equines and state agriculture and Veterinary Universities has undertaken extensive surveys for description and evaluation of the indigenous breeds and for their sustainable improvement and conservation.
“The programme will result in the generation of quality scientific data on donkey genetics, nutrition, reproduction and immunology, which will help in improving their population by scientific breeding, augmenting in production and utilisation of superior indigenous donkeys,” said the official.