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11 months ago

11th June, 2021 14h31


On its sixth annual International Working Animal Day (15 June), animal charity SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) is highlighting the essential role working animals carry out transporting water and producing food in developing countries around the world.  

Globally, an estimated 200 million working animals – including horses, donkeys, mules, camels and elephants – play a vital role in the world’s poorest communities, through such activities as ploughing fields and delivering food and water. 

By doing the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis, and providing basic necessities, this invisible workforce ensures the survival of poverty-stricken families and supports the livelihoods of at least 600 million people worldwide. 

In Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania in northwest Africa, for instance, there is no piped water and the city’s population of 1.3 million people relies entirely on more than 70,000 donkeys to deliver water from house to house each day. 

But, sadly, many working animals lack the food, water and vital veterinary care they desperately need themselves. These animals often carry backbreaking loads in extreme temperatures, but water can be scarce and people in the poorest communities can struggle to provide adequate nutrition for their animals. 

SPANA is tackling these issues and providing lifesaving support for working animals. The charity is building and filling water troughs, delivering emergency feeding programmes for malnourished animals, and ensuring free veterinary treatment is available to sick and injured animals in 28 countries. SPANA teams are also educating owners about their animals’ dietary needs. 

However, the need is huge and the vast number of working animals worldwide means that there are still millions that have no help available to them and lack the most fundamental requirements. 

Dr Ben Sturgeon, Director of Veterinary Services at SPANA, said: ‘Working animals have vital roles and, by transporting food and water, they ensure that communities in the world’s poorest places can survive.  

‘These animals work tirelessly, often in harsh conditions and sweltering heat. But, many animals do not have access to the food and water they need, and veterinary treatment is simply not available in so many areas. 

‘SPANA is working to improve the lives of these animals across the world, ensuring they are not forgotten and that their welfare needs are met, including through water projects and by providing vital veterinary care. On International Working Animal Day, please give these animals the recognition they deserve and support our work helping these loyal animals.’ 

SPANA Ambassador Brian Blessed said: ‘For many people in the world’s poorest communities, collecting water from the nearest river or well would be an almost impossible task without their working animals. And by ploughing fields, these animals make it possible for families living in extreme poverty to produce enough food to survive. 

‘These animals are valuable beyond measure, but their lives are often incredibly hard, lacking food, water and the care they deserve. They do so much for so many people, and it’s enormously important that we look after them. 

‘On International Working Animal Day, please show support for working animals everywhere and help SPANA to give them a better life.’ 

Find out how you can show your support for these hardworking animals by visiting   

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