Dame Jane Goodall has urged international aid organizations to put an end to animal gifting campaigns, in which people can pay to have a live farm animal donated to them in low-income countries.
The initiative aims to combat hunger and poverty in underserved communities.
However, Goodall, along with a number of other scientists and religious leaders, contends that the programs harm rather than help recipients.
“In the lead-up to Christmas, many people are feeling generous and want to help those less fortunate than themselves. There are a number of organizations that have launched campaigns, suggesting that one way to help those suffering poverty and hunger is to gift them an animal, such as a heifer. As a result, farm animals are purchased in great numbers by generous donors. Unfortunately, this can result in unintended consequences,” Goodall said in a video statement.
“The animals must be fed and they need a lot of water, and in so many places water is getting more and more scarce thanks to climate change. Veterinary care is often limited or totally lacking,” the ethologist continued.
The problems, according to a press release issued by Animal Save Movement and In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition (IVC), don’t end there.
Soil acidification, water contamination, air pollution, deforestation, forest fires, and zoonotic disease outbreaks are the “true costs” of sending a farm animal – whether it’s a goat, cow, or chicken, according to the organizations.
They also say that animal agriculture is linked to some health issues, such as diabetes.
As a result, the organizations have launched a campaign called “Stop Animal Gifting.” The initiative, which is backed by scientists, calls on organizations such as Oxfam, World Vision, Cargill’s “Hatching Hope” project, and Heifer International, among others, to stop donating live animals.
According to the press release, the latter sent more than 720,000 animals last year alone.
Instead, the Stop Animal Gifting campaign encourages organizations to establish community seed banks, install water irrigation systems, provide permaculture and veganic farming training, plant trees, and regenerate soil.
Goodall is a supporter of charity programs like this. “It will be even more beneficial to help by supporting plant-based projects and sustainable irrigation methods, as well as regenerative agriculture to improve the soil,” she said in the video.
“Well this means charities must develop plans to create a gift package that will appeal to the generosity of those who want to help those less fortunate than themselves.”