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Exploring Donkey Welfare and Positionality in Maun, Botswana

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Title: Exploring Donkey Welfare and Positionality in Maun, Botswana
Author: Geiger, Martha
Department: Department of Geography
Program: Geography
Advisor: Hovorka, Alice
Abstract: Donkeys (Equus assinus) are active agents in human development and wellbeing. They provide an affordable and accessible means of draught power, food, and transport for many Batswana, in particular for smallholder farmers. Yet despite these contributions to people’s livelihoods, donkeys remain marginalized within Batswana ideological, political, economic, and societal structures, as well as within policy-making and planning mechanisms. This research argues in favour of the intrinsic value of donkeys and examines their welfare and position in relation to their material and symbolic roles in shaping human lives in Batswana society. Through a mixed social and animal welfare science methodology, the research explored the ways human use, care for, and value donkeys and how human positioning potentially impacts the donkeys’ welfare. Donkey welfare assessments were performed to measure their physical and emotional welfare to assess if donkey welfare is a function of human positioning in Batswana society. We cannot understand human affairs, wellbeing, and relations without recognizing the ways in which animals are entangled in and affected by social and cultural practices. This research draws on animal geography theory and the idea of positionality to understand how people’s co-habitation with donkeys affects the donkeys’ welfare. This research contributes scholarly insights on animal-human relations, animal welfare studies, and will inform relevant government livestock programming and planning in Botswana.
Date: 2013-04
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