posted on May, 22 2012 @ 05:04 PM
You don't ride 'em. But you can put stuff on them. Things you want to take with you, or things to trade. Donkeys vary a lot in size, but the
larger ones can carry 90 pounds in cargo. So donkeys aren't very strong individually.
Most donkeys, when carrying a burden of any consequence, walk a bit slower than a person does. So donkeys aren't very fast.
Yet donkeys are far superior to horses for survival, for two reasons:
1) Donkeys do not need to be expensive grain when they work. Unlike horses, donkeys can forage for themselves completely when they are idle. while
all equines will condition better with some grain in their diets, only donkeys can be worked at some level with no grain at all.
2) While they do need some water, they are far more drought-tolerant than either horses or mules. This is why they were so popular in the
Mediterranean and the Southwestern desert of North America. Prospectors in particular relied on donkeys because of this feature.
Additionally, 2 donkeys can make more donkeys, which makes them better to either mules or bicycles.
Further, donkeys have more "horse sense" than most thoroughbred horses. They tend to be a bit more intelligent; perhaps consequently, they are a
bit less brave than horses. On the other hand, they will confront predators, and are quite loyal. Many goatherders even in the US use a single
donkey as a guard animal for their flocks.
If you had 5 donkeys, you could move 400 lbs. of supplies across a roadless wilderness with only a few watering holes. That is quite a bit of
freight. Donkeys can also be hitched to a small plow. And donkeys can be bred with horses to produce a mule, which is the single most effective plow
animal in many farming situations.
On the ancient Silk road of trade routes across ancient Asia, much of the distance was actually traversed by donkeys rather than camels.