The misery and suffering undergone by donkeys in Tanzania is partly down to the work they do and partly the attitude of their owners. Not only do they have to pull carts designed for oxen, which are often heavy and overloaded, with in appropriate and ill-fitting harness; there is also a common belief that donkeys do not feel pain or become ill, and that they have to be beaten to make them work. Donkeys are often worked for 12 hours or more without rest, they are underfed, and not given shelter at night. Owners do not treat their sores or injuries, or may just apply ash or used engine oil.
We are currently helping to fund the Tanzania Animals Protection Organisation (TAPO) which is working to teach better donkey care and working practices to donkey owners and handlers. Its work is mainly focused on the Kahma district of the Shinyanga region, and includes harness improvements and raising awareness of the need for veterinary care. Meanwhile, school and community education programmes are designed to change mistaken and negative attitudes towards donkeys so that mistreatment and neglect are no longer acceptable. In 2010 TAPO carried out a three-month donkey welfare education programme in the Kahama district of the Shinyanga region, in which around 700 owners and handlers were trained in basic donkey care and given field demonstrations of good harnessing practice.
We help fund the Tanzania Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO) which is carrying out a similar donkey welfare education project in the Mpwapwa district of central Tanzania. The group is also training local Community Animal Health Workers in donkey care, and raising awareness of the legislation against the mistreatment of animals (which has existed since 2008 but is not enforced). We also support the Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPA) which is running an education programme on donkey care for schoolchildren and communities.