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Arusha's newest donkey hero

“People think I’m crazy when I tell them I work with donkeys, even old school friends," says Diana Msemo, the Donkey Officer at the Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPA) in Tanzania. “Donkeys were never taught about at college and people just don’t understand them.”

Diana Msemo, the Donkey Officer at the Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPA), assesses donkeys at Kikatiti market. Her role is funded by The Donkey Sanctuary

Meeting Dame Jane Goodall

Today was a day I will never forget... the day I got to spend with one of my lifelong heroes, Dr Jane Goodall. As I child, I read all her books about the enigmatic chimpanzees she studied in Gombe National Park in Tanzania and when I was researching colobus monkeys in Kenya many years ago, I looked in more detail at her work. By observing the chimpanzees to have unique and individual personalities, she completely changed the science of animal behaviour and ever since has been an inspiration for countless people, young and old, for her tireless work to make the world a better place.

Alex and Dr Jane Goodall with donkeys in Arusha. Copyright: Jane Plosch and Gumbo Mhandeni, Roots and Shoots Tanzania.

Cameroon's donkeys: caught between two extremes

The remote, mountainous nature of the grasslands in North West Cameroon mean that tractors and even motorbikes are completely impractical for transporting farmed produce from the fields to the market. Distances are long, paths are narrow, terrain is challenging and the extreme, polarised wet and dry seasons create special challenges for the people who farm this area. The only practical way to work the land is with the help of donkeys in much the same way as some of the steep farms in Devon used to be farmed.

A man with his donkey in Rifem, Cameroon

Meet Cameroon's new donkey champions

You can’t make a difference to the welfare of donkeys in remote communities without investing time in building relationships. The Foundation for Animal Welfare in Cameroon (FAWCAM) recently expanded their staff team by employing two new veterinary nurses to live, work and have a permanent presence in donkey-owning communities in the North West province. This week, I met the new staff who are both funded by The Donkey Sanctuary and who are investing their time to make a difference.

The two new veterinary nurses at FAWCAM, Victorine Nanga and Isidore Njiki, with a donkey named Paco

Dancing to a refreshingly different beat in Cameroon

Cameroon is often called Africa in miniature. The Sahara’s fringe brings the dessert to the north, the tropical coast is fringed with coconut palms, rainforests cover much of the south and mountainous grasslands dominate the North-West province where our partners, The Foundation for Animal Welfare in Cameroon (FAWCAM), are based. Although we have been working together since 2010, we have never had the chance to see the team in action so I’m spending a few days in and around Bamenda and Kumbo towns at their project sites to learn more about FAWCAM’s work.

Alex Mayers and the FAWCAM team receive a warm and lively welcome in Vekovi

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