Target: Portugal’s Minister of Agriculture and Sea Assunção Cristas
Goal: Invest in conservation research to protect misunderstood and threatened donkey breeds.
As the European Union’s farming regions face cuts to their financial support, donkeys are being hit hard. After having helped farmers plow fields and carry goods for centuries, donkeys still endure the perception that they are “the stupid animal of the poor.” The movement of younger generations from rural areas to cities poses a threat to donkey populations, as elderly farmers grow too old to care for the animals.
The rise of modern farming equipment such as tractors has also diminished the donkey’s worth as a source of labor. A recent article in the New York Times reports that with the cost of having a donkey now at $650 a year, farmers struggle to keep them even with the help of subsidies. Often farmers are forced to sell their donkeys, no matter how attached they are to the animals.
The Miranda donkey in Portugal, named after the region it inhabits, has been an endangered breed since 2003. Donkeys face extinction throughout Europe, Russia, and many former Soviet countries. 30 out of 53 donkey breeds listed by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization are currently at risk. According to Waltraud Kugler, director of a European animal conservation organization called SAVE, each breed has a population below 1,000.
The irony is that despite donkeys’ long history with humans, the animals remain misunderstood. Donkeys are from the desert, but they are often made to graze in meadows, where the grass sits poorly with their digestion and the soft soil is bad for their hooves.
By signing the petition below, you can urge Portugal’s Minister of Agriculture to end the neglect of this invaluable animal. Our economic instability is jeopardizing a way of life and an entire species. It is time to invest in research to inform greater conservation efforts and save donkeys from extinction.
Dear Minister Assunção Cristas,
I am writing to you regarding the vulnerability of donkey populations not only in Portugal, but throughout Europe, Russia, and former Soviet countries. Possible cuts to the European Union’s farming regions have hit donkey populations hard as well as the farmers who care for them. Relying on subsidies to keep their donkeys, farmers are often forced to sell them, no matter how attached they are to the animals.
Despite donkeys’ long history with humans, the animals remain misunderstood. Forced to graze on grass and soft soil, which are poor for their indigestion and the health of their hooves, they face the additional burden of being labeled “the stupid animal of the poor,” a stereotype which has inhibited vital research these animals need to avoid extinction.
I urge you to lead conservation efforts in your country by investing in research to save these animals. Our neglect of their plight has continued for too long. Please be an example to the Western world and demonstrate that amid dire economic instability, we can act responsibly and protect not just a species, but a way of life.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: makintosh via fanpop.com