Gorkha, July, 2016– “There are at least 500 mules working in Gorkha district and 36 of them died this year due to narrow landscape, especially after the earthquake and landslide. Few equines broke their legs in the journey and since there is no any medical facilities available for them, some of them were thrown alive in the river as they can walk and work no more”, says Dhan Kumar Gurung, Secretary of Mule Management Committee, Gorkha District.
Gorkha district of Nepal, especially in the northern part there is no access to roads and transportation facilities. Hence, Mountain mules still remains the main source of transportation and income for the local people. But the earthquake and heavy rainfall has made the walking route of Gorkha even worse. On top of that, overall conditions including health, shelter and working hours of mules are often compromised and they are made to over work in extreme conditions with no proper treatment facilities.
In order to study the condition of mountain mules of Gorkha district, Animal Nepal in 2015 conducted a rapid survey on Mountain mules of Gorkha with assistance from The Donkey Sanctuary UK. Besides a lack of medical support, the main welfare problems identified are a lack of appropriate feed, water, shelter, vaccination programmes and a poor understanding of animal welfare. As a result mountain mules suffer from various medical conditions including preventable wounds, lameness, colic, injuries and communicable diseases. After the primary study, Animal Nepal thought it was important to organise a multi-stakeholder meeting at Gorkha in order to make them understand the condition of mules and work towards proper solution.
A general meeting with stakeholders from Gorkha was called on 22 July where the condition of working mules and ways of improvements were discussed. Animal Nepal would like to thank Narayan Prasad Bhatta (CDO), Narayan Acharya (LDO), Jagat Bhadhur Nepali (DLSO), Shyam Raj Panta (DLSO), Tek Prashad Regmi (NFC), Prassana Pokhrel (RSS/ RAdio Nepal), Dhan Kumar Gurung (Mule Management Committee, Gorkha), Bhimlal Shrestha (FNJ Gorkha) for accepting our invitation and presenting their wonderful views on welfare of mountain mules.
The DLSO suggested that there might be shortage of land to build enough shelter for working mules. And since these animals won’t stay in fixed place, it is necessary that shelters be made in the walking route so they will have proper place to stay during their rest and at night.
Animal Nepal also published its Mountain mule assessment Gorkha report and distributed among the stakeholders. The CDO of Gorkha district, Mr.Nayayan Prasad Bhatta thanked Animal Nepal for bringing up this important issue and promised to help their best for the betterment of mules of Gorkha.
According to Mr.Dhan Kumar Gurung, “Since there at at least 500 mules working in the district, Animal Nepal can help build a shelter at various places like Arkhet, Soti and Machi Khola that should accommodate at least 500 equines. There should also be at least one veterinarian available in each place in case of emergency.”