200 Million Organic Trucks, Tractors and Taxis

34 minutes

Working animals. There are currently 200 million horses, donkeys, mules, camels and elephants serving us as trucks, tractors and taxis all over the world. Some are "owned" and some are "rented" by people who derive an income from their animals. The human depend on the animals for their livelihood and vice versa.
While many of us are thinking about whether our next car runs on petrol or electricity, hundreds of millions of people are still taking the "organic" option when it comes to their transport. Taking good care of working equines is the subject of this episode.
In this episode we speak with Melissa Liszewski. Melissa has spent her entire career helping to improve the living conditions of working animals across several continents.
While we were recording this episode, I must admit that I was quite emotional. The reason behind that was realising just how many animals are still working hard for us today, since it's not something I see often in my neck of the woods. I was also struck at the high number that are being helped by organisations like Brooke, IFAW and SPANA, which we discuss in the episode.
As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. During our conversation I found out how professionals are breaking down the issues into actionable steps that improve the conditions for working animals. Millions of them. For instance, Melissa tells us about a shelter for working equines at a market in Ethiopia, which started out as a place where animals could rest while their human families shopped. It now runs as a round the clock equine care centre, complete with an educational programme. This was the first time I have heard about something like this!
I think you’ll agree by the time you finish the episode that Melissa is someone who embodies what this podcast is designed to convey - that the human species depends so much on what other animals have done for us. In many ways, we would not have thrived without the help of working equines.
Further, I hope what you hear in this episode will help you to see the next working horse, donkey or mule that you pass in a little bit of a different light. Perhaps you might take on the advice that Melissa shares and do your part in making sure that animal is getting good care. As you know, all domesticated animals depend completely on humans, and so we are wholly responsible for their treatment.
Episode cover photo credit: Mae Tortajada-Suils
About Melissa LiszewskiMelissa is a Senior Program Manager in Stakeholder & Community Engagement. Her passion is delivering animal welfare, sustainability and social impact in the communities she works with.
Melissa is currently working at IFAW as a Senior Program Manager, Community Engagement. She is also a Board Trustee at SPANA. Before now, Melissa has worked at the Brooke and the Animal Welfare Institute, among other animal welfare organisations. It's a career that has seen Melissa help thousands of animals gain improved living conditions all over the world. In turn, Melissa's work has helped the humans working with those animals prosper.
This article by Melissa on donkey welfare in Kenya is an eye opener into her work and what she has learned during her studies and career, it's very much a worthwhile read.
Photos to accompany this episode
Melissa very kindly sent us photos from several trips around the world to illustrate what we discuss during the episode. 

Melissa Liszewski working in Pakistan, 2014. Credit: Mae Tortajada-Suils.

Market shelter for working equines in Ethiopia. Credit: Melissa Liszewski.

Animal having a drink at the market shelter for working equines in Ethiopia. Credit: Melissa Liszewski.

A Gharry taxi horse in Ethiopia. Credit: Melissa Liszewski.

A donkey in Jordan. Credit: Melissa Liszewski.

Working at a brick kiln in India. Credit: Melissa Liszewski.

 Working at a brick kiln in India. Credit: Melissa Liszewski.
 A boy and horse taking a break at a brick kiln in India. Credit: Melissa Liszewski.
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