Donkeys are the driving force behind the gold mines, farms and markets of Tanzania. Thanks to funding from The Donkey Sanctuary, these hardworking animals are receiving the care and understanding they deserve.
Donkeys in the Bukombe district are vital for communities to earn a living. They are relied upon in gold mines, markets, brick kilns, and households - but wounds, injuries and diseases are far too commonplace. Thankfully, the welfare of donkeys in Tanzania is taking a turn for the better through a project funded by The Donkey Sanctuary.
The project enabled the Tanzania Humane Charity, our in-country partners, to complete a vital report on some of the problems faced by donkeys in the community including beating, overloading, and being forced to carry cumbersome harnesses designed for oxen. The majority of Tanzanian donkeys have no access to vet services and when they are of no more use to work they are often abandoned to die, or stolen to be slaughtered for their skin.
5 steps towards a brighter future for Tanzanian donkeys
As a result of their report, the Tanzania Humane Charity is ready to tackle the problems donkeys face through five key approaches.
We will help the Tanzania Humane Charity to purchase simple tools and local materials to make appropriate and well-fitting harnesses which will then be sold to create a revolving fund. A harness training point will be set up in the district for farmers to be able to repair their harnesses, and local artisans will be trained and supervised to make good quality carts.
500 donkey owners will be trained to communicate more effectively and ethically with their donkeys, in order to replace the sticks used to drive them forward. Harness fitting and proper handling will also be taught through exhibitions and individual family visits, as well as specific workshops to engage and empower local women.
Government official training
Advocacy and championing donkeys at the highest level is key to promoting donkey welfare in the long-term. The Tanzania Humane Charity will be meeting with government officials, police, vets and village leaders to promote Tanzania’s existing laws (the Animal Welfare Act) and encourage their proper application.
70 livestock students will be trained in appropriate donkey harness use and how to utilise the donkey welfare assessment tool designed by The Donkey Sanctuary. The aim is to bridge the gap in the lack of donkey-specific knowledge so that the livestock field officers of the future can create a change in the culture.
We will help the Tanzania Humane Charity to improve resource mobilisation through activities targeted at community members and the international gold mining companies in the region. This will help provide more local resources to reach even more donkeys.
Wheels of change are set into motion
Life expectancy for working Tanzanian donkeys is just seven years - but we are aiming to reach 1,000 of these hardworking animals over 12 months. In the face of disastrous flooding coupled with extended droughts, the road to good welfare will not be a straightforward one – but with your support, the wheels of change are beginning to turn.
Already the local community is coming together to support the welfare of their donkeys – take, for example, this local primary school who have performed a fantastic song to raise awareness of the importance of donkeys and mules. Through the important work undertaken by the Tanzania Humane Charity, we can hope that these young people will continue to champion donkeys for years to come.