Fears for future of native Portuguese donkey breed

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A young Miranda donkey before fully shedding its coat. Photo: Trincao/Flickr [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] via Wikimedia Commons
A young Miranda donkey before fully shedding its coat. Photo: Trincao/Flickr [CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
A study has found that Portugal’s native Miranda donkey breed is at risk of extinction.

The research carried out at the University of Vila Real suggests the breed, which is found in the Terra de Miranda region, could be gone within 50 years.

The work was carried out by veterinarian Miguel Quaresma, who studied the demographics and reproduction of the breed for his doctoral thesis.

He explored the likely fortunes of the breed based on current management strategies.

The Portugal News Online reported that Quaresma based his dire predictions on the low numbers of pregnant females among an aging breeding population and a high mortality rate among foals in the first month.

“The proportion of births to live animals is low, not enough to maintain the race,” he said.

He called for policies to encourage more breeding, as well as strategies to encourage sustainable use of the donkeys to combat changes in farm practices that have left traditional herd owners with no incentive to breed.

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