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 Post subject: The plight of the donkey
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2007 3:23 am 
The plight of the donkey

@ DM / By Deepal V. Perera and Kasun Yapa Karunaratne
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sri Lanka has many laws to protect its wild life (although implementation remains questionable), yet the plight of the donkies in Puttlam seem to get little attention.

The ass in Sri Lanka resembles the wild Nubian subspecies having a vertical dark stripe on the shoulder. It is believed that the ass was first introduced to Sri Lanka many centuries ago by Arab traders. Ever since then these species were seen actively engaged by the people as a domestic animal contributing to the country's economy in transporting goods. Now, Sri Lanka is more developed and the use of the ass for transport has become obsolete.

Many decades ago these animals were seen enjoying their freedom, thanks to the vast area of land that was available for them to breed and to roam freely . But that was a long time ago. The ever increasing human population and encroachment of land has threatened their existence and their future looks bleak.

The arrival of prawn farming and illegal land encroachments have pushed these animals to the streets making them vulnerable to being knocked down by motor vehicles.

When 'Life' visited Kalpitiya and Puttalam to see the plight of the wild ass or donkey the situation was much gravar than anticipated. Almost every animal suffers gruesome scars and wounds as a result of being hit by motor vehicles and wounds inflicted by humans. Some could not even walk due to injuries .

"When we were small there were many donkies in this area and now their numbers have come down to about 250. The main reason is that there is no one to look after them. Sometimes coconut estate owners come here to take them away. There is a strong belief that when a donkey is braying it may drive away the coconut beetles. For that there are people who will pay about Rs.750", for a donkey” said P.K Chaminda, a villager in Kalpitiya.

According to villagers the one reason why donkies are on the streets is because there is no proper place for them to live. Every day they go in search of food and water. There are many accidents involving donkies and motor vehicles.

"The sad part is that most of the time these animals become victims. Recently there was an incident where two donkeys were trying to cross the road. They were hit by a three-wheeler and both died instantly. Of course three people including the driver also suffered grave injuries in the accident." Chaminda said.

The villagers told Life that in Kalpitiya there is a vast extent of land by the sea which has ideal vegetation for donkies but they are chased out from there due to the fact that the land is used by the forces for their aerial target practising.

Ven Rathmale Ginarathana thero could be said to be the only human being showing some mercy to these animals. As Puttalam and the surrounding areas hold salty water and dry weather conditions, humans and animals always seem to be on the run in search of water. The thero has converted his fish pond into a water hole for all the animals in the area.

"Every day I get lots of donkies and cows coming here to drink water. One donkey will drink about four litres of water and they come in numbers." said Ginarathana thero.

He said that these animals are harmless and they hardly attack humans. “On the other hand it’s sad to see these animals on the streets. In time to come there won’t be any left in this area” he said.

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