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.
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.
Today’s blog comes from the National Council of SPCAs, a South African animal-welfare charity that receives our support for the work they do with donkeys. To honour Mandela Day, they recently helped a small community in Limpopo Province to improve the welfare of their working donkeys by replacing unsuitable harnessing. Here the manager of the charity’s Training Unit Morgane James tells us more…
On a visit to a brick kiln in Solapur in India, our team found two donkeys in need of urgent veterinary care for bite wounds. After treating injuries to their forelegs and backs, the team gave the donkeys vaccines as well as antibiotics to prevent infection. The donkeys had been quite difficult to catch, so while they were there, the team also took the opportunity to talk to the three children looking after them about donkey behaviour and handling.
Partly as a little light-relief during a packed week of activities, Louise, Harriet and I made our acting debuts this morning in Warren Barn. We are currently hosting around 25 of our international partners from Kenya, India, Egypt, Mexico and Ethiopia to share approaches and to look at how the new Donkey Sanctuary strategy will direct our projects over the next 5 years. And what better way to explore strategic approaches than with a bit of drama?
In addition to the rest day described in the first part of my report on the student guides’ Grande Traversée, I am delighted to be able to report on another significant development.
Over the past four years, I have been working to find a solution to the horrendous tethering injuries inflicted on mules here in Morocco. It was therefore very encouraging to see the almost universal take up and use of the tethering system that I have developed in collaboration with Professor Hassan Alyakine.
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.