The Lives of Animals Research Group

The Lives of Animals Research Group

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DONKEYS (Equus africanus asinus)

   

Synopsis

Donkeys (Equus africanus asinus) are an integral and important part of daily life for many people in Botswana. Donkeys provide an affordable and accessible means of draught power, food production, foodstuffs, and transport, in particular for smallholder farmers. Despite these contributions, donkeys are marginalized and mistreated by people given their low status compared to other animals, in particular cattle.

Martha Geiger joined our research team as a Masters student in 2011 to investigate the welfare of donkeys in and around Maun in Ngamiland District, Northern Botswana. Martha's work highlights donkeys as a pivotal social group (drawing from animal geography) and bridges social science with animal welfare science methods to study both the donkeys themselves and the humans who interact with them. From May through August 2012, Martha conducted physical and emotional welfare assessments of 100 donkeys and interviewed their respective human owners on how they value, use and care for their animals. Local training, in-kind assistance and encouragement were provided by the Maun Animal Welfare Society (MAWS) and the Ministry of Agriculture veterinary and livestock extension services.

Martha successfully defended her research in April 2013 and her thesis was awarded the OP Dwivedi Prize for International Development at the University of Guelph. We have published manuscripts in a variety of venues, including those focused on veterinary science, geographical social theory, and international development.  Martha returned to Maun in January 2014 to disseminate her research results in person to local communities and the MoA; she joined with MAWS to operationalize a donkey ear tag project funded by SPANA. Martha is currently at the University of Bristol as a Research Associate working with Dr. Becky Whay in Animal Welfare and Behaviour; she is conducting research the socioeconomic value of working donkeys in Ethiopia.

Publications

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka. 2015. Donkeys in development: welfare assessments and knowledge mobilization. Development in Practice 25(8):1091-1104.

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka. 2015. Animal performativity: exploring donkey lives in Botswana. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 33(5):1-19.

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka. 2015. Using physical and emotional parameters to assess donkey welfare in Botswana. Veterinary Record Open 2(1):1-7.

Geiger, Martha. 2013. Exploring Donkey Welfare and Positionality in Maun, Botswana (Unpublished masters thesis). Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph Canada.

Presentations

Geiger, Martha and Hovorka, Alice J. (presenter). 2015. Animal Performativity: The Lives of Donkeys in Botswana. Paper presented the Department of Geography Seminar Series, Queen’s University, Ontario Canada.

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka (co-presenters). 2015. Animal Bodies and Performativity: Exploring the Lives of Donkeys in Botswana. Paper presented at the Minding Animals 3 Conference, New Delhi India.

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka (presenter). 2014. Animal Bodies and Performativity: Donkey Lives in Botswana. Paper presented the Department of Geography Colloquium Series, York University, Ontario Canada.

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka (presenter) 2014. Donkey welfare and positionality in Botswana. Presented at the All Things Great and Small: Interdisciplinary Animal Conference. University of California at Davis.

Geiger, Martha (presenter) and Alice J. Hovorka 2014. Exploring donkey welfare and social perception in Botswana. Presented at the World Horse Welfare 7th International Colloquium. Royal Holloway, London England.

Geiger, Martha (presenter) and Alice J. Hovorka. 2013. Exploring Donkey Welfare and Positionality in Botswana. Paper presented at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, USA.

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka (presenter). 2012. At the Margins of Development: Donkey Lives in Botswana. Paper presented at the Global Development Symposium, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph Canada.

Geiger, Martha and Alice J. Hovorka (presenter). 2012. Exploring Donkey Welfare and Positionality in Botswana. Short talk at the Campbell Centre on Animal Welfare Studies Research Symposium, University of Guelph, Guelph Canada.