Pack donkeys have been used for thousands of years and can still be the appropriate
solution for transport in remote mountainous regions where the roads are few and difficult.
Denis Fielding describes how pack donkeys should be selected and their saddles arranged
for maximum efficiency.
Folk technologies such as using donkeys for pack transport
have received little attention from extension or research
It is recommended 'that the
workers. The purpose of this article is therefore to
value of pack animals be
highlight the important aspects in the management of
pack donkeys as a contribution towards using them better.
recognised for alleviating
the work of women and
children and that such
Packing is one of the most ancient forms of transport
which preceded even the invention of the wheel. That it
has survived to the present day serves to emphasize its
value. The major advantage of pack transport is its
draught animals be
encouraged where socially
and economically justified'.
effectiveness in the absence of roads, in hilly and
mountainous terrain and in muddy and marshy areas. It is particularly effective where access is
limited -this applies not only to remote mountainous areas but also to areas of high population
density as in city centres. Donkeys are usually cheap compared to other draught animals and an
adequate pack saddle normally requires relatively little monetary investment. However pack
donkeys do have some limitations which include:
Small size of the load
High labour requirement (although this could be an advantage in some circumstances)
Energetically less efficient than using a cart
So it is clear that pack donkeys are not universally appropriate or even a feasible option in many
countries. But, where they are a feature of
the existing transport system it is sensible
to consider how their management might
Selection and training
The important factors in selecting
donkeys for pack work are:
size and condition
hooves and legs
The pack donkey needs to be healthy and
free from skin and hair blemishes,
particularly on the shoulders and back.
Figure 1: Make sure the saddle strap is well
forward so that the lungs are not constricted
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