Edition 1504
08 December 2018
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Miranda donkey facing extinction, study warns

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 06-08-2015 13:56:00 · 1 Comments

A study by a university in northern Portugal into the Miranda donkey breed, which is indigenous to Portugal, has concluded that the docile, shaggy-haired mule could disappear within the next 50 years.

Miranda donkey facing extinction, study warns

Research by the University of Vila Real into the demographics and reproduction of the Miranda breed found that it is at risk of completely fading out within the next half a century.
The Miranda donkey is autochthonous to the Terra de Miranda region of northeast Portugal.
Miguel Quaresma, a vet at the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, studied the demographics and reproduction of the unique breed for his PhD thesis with the objective of “predicting its progression under the current conditions of management, and identifying critical variables for its survival.”
“We concluded that the breed is presently at risk of extinction”, the researcher stressed in a statement.
That conclusion, he explained, was reached based on a low annual percentage of pregnant females, “mainly due to the gradual abandonment of the breeding of these animals.”
His work estimates that out of “every 600 individuals of an aging breeding population, less than half of the purebred females had foals and some only gave birth once.”
Other factors such as high mortality rate during the foals’ first month of life, which is higher among male foals than females, is also jeopardising the breed’s continued existence.
Further contributing to the risk of extinction is a rise in in breeding and the fact that older females, from the age of 15, have a much lower successful reproduction rate.
“The proportion of births to live animals is low, not enough to maintain the race “, the specialist warned, underlining, however, that if the number of offspring is boosted,” a small percentage of reproductive females will be enough to maintain the population.”
To prevent extinction, Miguel Quaresma calls for the introduction of stimulus policies for breeders and younger owners, and more support for older owners.
“New strategies for the sustainable use of the Miranda donkey should be encouraged to combat the negative change in agricultural practices that have left traditional herds with no incentive to breed,” he argues, and suggests investing in tourism, sustainable milk production respecting animal welfare, assino-therapy or even keeping the Miranda Donkey as a pet, as ways of ensuring the breed’s survival.
Miguel Nóvoa, a representative for the Association for the Study and Protection of Asinine Cattle (AEPGA), which was also involved in the research, told The Portugal News that some of the “less favourable aspects of the study” are already “being worked on.”
“The study was carried out up until the end of 2012. Had it have been carried out today, the risk of extinction might not be 50 years, but 75”, he explained.
Reiterating that among the main problems faced by the Miranda donkey are its struggling birth rate as well as finding good breeders who will commit to breeding the animals regularly, Miguel Nóvoa said that there have nonetheless been “significant improvements” in recent years and “a good number of births” have been registered.
AEPGA and researchers from the University of Vila Real have revealed that they are jointly working on a project to prevent forest fires by using the Miranda donkey.
According to Miguel Nóvoa the project involves the maintenance of meadows and natural marshes in the northeast Transmontano by allowing donkeys to graze there, hence clearing the pastures to create “buffer areas” between locales that are at greater risk of fires.
The AEPGA spokesperson elaborated that all autochthonous breeds, such as Portugal’s Miranda cow, the Transmontano sheepdog and the Churra da Terra Quente sheep, face a risk of extinction “in the short, medium or long term.”
“What is needed is for society to be concerned about its genetic heritage” and to defend it, he concluded.

Comments

I just rescued a pair of jennies, mother and daughter, may Be 4 mos. From OK kill pen..i am only guessing they are Miranda based on face coloring. Wonder how they got to USA. Wondered too if these were in a BLM roundup.
by Meg Steensland from USA on 17-10-2016 12:38:00

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Edition 1504
08 December 2018
Edition: 1504

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