A Devon-based Donkey Sanctuary currently working to help wild donkeys on the islands of Salt Cay, South Caicos and Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, has issued the following statement:
Great success has been achieved in alleviating issues surrounding the alleged slaughter of animals on Salt Cay but Dr Andrew Trawford, Director of Veterinary Services at The Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth, in Devon, reports that there are still issues to be resolved in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
In a press conference given in Providenciales the Minister, Lillian Boyce, concentrated on addressing the source of these allegations rather than address the welfare implications of rounding up feral animals.
However, Andrew Trawford said that "despite the clean appearance of the compound in Grand Turk and the adequate provision of food and water, the main welfare issue of overpopulation of donkeys and horses was not highlighted in reports. The indiscriminate breeding, including incestuous behaviour, within confined areas on Grand Turk and South Caicos is of great concern and must be addressed as a priority."
Animals were rounded up on South Caicos two weeks ago and confined in a compound which did not allow the donkeys or other livestock access to the feed and water which was being totally consumed by 20 horses that had been rounded up at the same time. Again, although not reported in the press interview on Turks and Caicos, Dr Trawford has agreed to help Government officials with a breeding control programme. He has also offered advice on welfare issues concerning the transportation of donkeys should this still need to take place. It remains to be seen whether these feral animals can in fact be domesticated either in Turks and Caicos or the other destinations within the Caribbean that have been proposed (Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica).
Although not involved prior to his arrival on the islands Dr Trawford said "I could not have carried out my investigation into the alleged slaughter without the kind co-operation and logistical support of the Turks and Caicos Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TCSPCA). We hope Government officials continue to liaise with this organisation and other charities both in the USA and UK to solve the problem once and for all.