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Alive and kicking!

It sounds like the start of a corny Christmas cracker joke: what do you call a cross between a donkey and a zebra?

In the hot and crowded city of Dar es Salaam, I met Elize Dorrestein, a graduate vet from The Netherlands who is volunteering with the Tanzanian Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO).

'Zedonk' in Kenya!

Donkey welfare on the curriculum in Kenya

Donkey welfare could soon be part of the school curriculum in Kenya thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary’s work to lobby the Kenyan authorities as part of a current review.

The charity’s team in Kenya is working with other welfare organisations to have donkey welfare and animal welfare more broadly included on the new national schools’ curriculum to come into force in classrooms across Kenya from 2016

The Sanctuary will play a major part in designing the new curriculum with education officer Josiah Ojwang part of the taskforce shaping the plans.

Donkey welfare could become part of the curriculum in Kenya

Arriving at our Sanctuary in Lamu

On the small island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya, a short boat ride takes you from the airport to town – and the very first thing that every visitor notices as they climb up the harbour-wall steps is that the ‘traffic’ on the island comes solely in the four-legged variety with barely a wheel to be seen. The island’s population of around 3,000 donkeys is relied upon for pretty much all forms of transport and has been tended to by The Donkey Sanctuary for over 25 years.

Working donkeys of Lamu by the sea

Making ‘Donkey Island’ a safer haven

A chance encounter at Nairobi’s Wilson airport has just highlighted to me the strength of Donkey Sanctuary Kenya’s (DSK) networking and advocacy for donkey welfare. I am currently at about 22,000 feet, heading out to DSK’s centre on Lamu island with Josiah, the Education Officer from DSK, and after a stunning take-off across Nairobi National Park (think of an aerial view of giraffe and zebra herds – quite a treat), our tiny plane is flying mercifully smoothly.

Governor Issa Timamy (left) with DSK's Josiah Ojwang

Sharing knowledge to improve donkey welfare

Earlier this week, we talked about the Colloquium on Working Equids that our team attended in London. The purpose of the colloquium was to gather together people involved with working equines to share information from around the world and improve knowledge across the board. The Donkey Sanctuary was one of the four equine charities sponsoring the event and our UK International Team was joined by over 40 people from our partner organisations around the world, with representatives from Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The Donkey Sanctuary's Charity Knowledge Exchange room

Pipeline reduces donkeys’ burden

‘Welcome to Mlolongo,’ said Amos, Harness Officer at Donkey Sanctuary Kenya, as we turned off the Mombasa Road.

I was visiting the small but burgeoning township of Mlolongo on the edge of Nairobi to meet with Daniel, a donkey owner who you may remember from our Winter Newsletter last year. Along with many other workers, Daniel and his donkeys transport water from the nearby Syokimau Dam to town to facilitate building work.

Donkeys struggle along the uneven terrain with their heavy load of water

Donkeys adopt a school in the Rift Valley

Now, I’ve heard of schools fostering donkeys and I’ve heard of schools which ‘Adopt a Donkey’ through the Sanctuary’s scheme but up until today, I had never heard of donkeys being the ones to start such a relationship.

On my last full day with the Donkey Sanctuary Kenya team for this trip, I drove with Josiah to Kumpa School on the outskirts of Kajiado town (towards the Tanzanian border from Nairobi).

The pair of donkeys have made the school their home

Proudly supporting good welfare

At a community event in Kenya this week, I met Joseph, whose story highlighted how donkey and human welfare are very much linked when donkeys and people work together. Joseph is from a remote, rural area of Kenya where he struggled to make ends meet. He saved up as much as he could and moved to Nairobi five years ago where he used his savings to buy two 10-year-old donkeys from a friend. Without knowing much about the animals, he started a business transporting water by cart.

Joseph and his donkey

The Tale of Toto, the Inflatable Donkey

Thought you’d seen it all? Meet Toto, the inflatable donkey who has recently joined The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya (DSK) team as an exceptionally obedient harness training model. Wounds caused by ill-fitting or badly made harnesses are all too common in some parts of Kenya. When a harness causes a donkey pain, donkey-users can sometimes misunderstand their behaviour and, believing the animal to be stubborn or lazy, resort to beating it to try to speed it up.

Meet Toto, the inflatable donkey

Improving the lives of donkeys by giving women a voice

You might remember the moving video we posted recently reflecting on the work donkeys did for the women of Kenya during the 2011 droughts and in its aftermath. In it, the women discussed how communities rely on donkeys to transport water for the home, as well as for their cattle, especially during the frequent droughts. In the 2011 drought, things got so bad that cattle, goats and even donkeys began dying of starvation and thirst.

Donkeys are essential in helping the women carry heavy loads
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