Progress For Donkeys In Afghanistan

LEXINGTON, Ky. – April 15, 2017 –   Continuous droughts and ongoing internal warfare in Afghanistan make it a challenging country for animal charities to accomplish much.  However, since 2008, Brooke, the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, has been committed to helping the country’s 1.7 million working horses and donkeys with a primary focus on improving animal welfare through changes in human behavior.

One of the areas in which Brooke has been making progress is curbing the mutilation of donkeys.  As is common in poor and remote communities with no access to outside healthcare for people or animals, equine owners resort to traditional, and often harmful, remedies for illness or injury.




It is still common in Afghanistan to see donkeys with slit nostrils – a very painful practice which is crudely accomplished using knives, scissors or other sharp objects without anesthesia. Slitting is done in the mistaken belief that it improves the airflow into the nose and hence is better for the donkeys when they are working hard in the thin air of the mountains. In rare cases the team also saw donkeys with slit ears. Apparently some people believe that donkey blood can treat bad burns.

In Afghan villages where there are traditional healers, in-country Brooke teams, supported by donations through Brooke USA, have been working closely with them, as well as the community itself, to stamp out these practices. In all eight of the Brooke-supported villages recently visited by outside Brooke teams, only a few donkeys still had slit nostrils. All of the villagers interviewed were excited to point out that they no longer practiced this and that the donkeys with slit nostrils and ears were older and had the mutilation done in the distant past.

None of the younger animals seen in those eight villages had their nostrils or ears slit.




Afghanistan has the twelfth highest density of working horses and donkeys in the world. Many are vulnerable, working in difficult conditions, pulling and carrying heavy loads in brick kilns and urban areas.  Brooke is training Afghan paravets to provide access to animal healthcare in the villages while working with entire communities to stamp out mutilations and other harmful practices for these hard-working animals.

For more information, please contact Cindy Rullman, Brooke USA, 859-296-0037 or For more information on Brooke USA, go to


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