Australian Donkeys

Some readers may think that they know one or two of these. However, we’re talking about the four-legged kind (equus asinus) and the no-legged kind. First, the no-legged kind.

IMG_1672 (2)As the sign says, a donkey is a simple old-fashioned water heater. Designs vary a good bit, but essentially it involves using the heat from a small fire to warm a tank of water, which is then fed to a shower or bath. The time involved in collecting a few sticks to get the fire going might seem well worth the effort after a long day in the saddle.

When it comes to the four-legged kind, some people will be surprised to learn that there are some five million of them in Australia, most of them feral, and living in remote arid areas. Donkeys were first imported into Australia as pack and haulage animals in the 1860s, due to the fact that horses became sick after eating various native plants, but donkeys were not affected.

When motorised transport began to be introduced in the early 1900s, some of these donkeys were released into the wild, and became feral. Female donkeys can produce a foal every year, and hence in good conditions, the population can increase rapidly. The majority of today’s feral donkeys are in the northern and western parts of the country. They can cause considerable damage to pastures, water holes and fences.

100_0321Pictured are some of the semi-domesticated donkeys around Silverton in western NSW.


About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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4 Responses to Australian Donkeys

  1. Sue Emeleus says:

    Hi Rob, fascinating as usual.Do you have any figures for the numbers of feral cats? How is Judy? love from Sue

    • dazzlerplus says:

      Hi Sue, It’s understandably difficult to get a handle on how many feral cats there are in Australia — the moggie blighters won’t stay still and be counted. Estimates vary between 5 and 18 million. Even if you take the Iowest estimate, it means they kill many millions of birds and small native animals every single day!

  2. Mandy says:

    I was camped out past Nullagine in WA once where there was a large population of feral donkeys. As I slept in my swag one night I reckon the donkeys were playing “truth or dare’ because one sidled up quite close and let out an enormous bray. I think I shot at least 6 feet skyways.

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