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Alex Mayers's blog
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.
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.
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.
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.