Donkeys to become latest four-footed firefighters
Some of AEPGA's aspirant fire combat task force. Image: facebook

Donkeys to become latest four-footed firefighters

Initiative in Miranda do Douro to see donkeys fitted with GPS 

After the failed idea of employing goats to reduce ‘rogue vegetation that constitutes heightened fire risks’, Portugal is now to start enlisting donkeys.

It’s an initiative promoted by AEPGA, the association for the study and protection of donkeys, which sees these animals as the ‘new’ solution to ‘areas with difficult access’.

“Donkeys reached places where machines can’t”, AEPGA biologist Sara Pinto has explained.

As their whole raison d’être is to eat vegetation, donkeys are the ideal choice for effective land-clearning – very much as goats were presented as such some years ago in a project that sadly “never got off the ground” (Público) due to lack of finance.

In this case, it seems the project has already started. 

CM explains that each animal (we´re not told how many there are at this point) has been fitted with a GPS (again, we are not told how) “to accompany its movements, allowing real time monitoring”.

These donkeys are the fruit of a breeding programme that sees at least 100 foals born each year. Females are popular with buyers/ breeders – but males not quite so, thus this idea, to employ male donkeys to help with the perennial risk of forest fires.

AEPGA technical secretary Miguel Nóvoa has said that he hopes the initiative will be taken up by other breeders/ donkey owners.

“For every six hectares, between six and 10 donkeys will be distributed”, he explained, with the area “controlled by an electric fence” so that the donkeys do not stray beyond it.

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