The Donkey Sanctuary has recently helped the NSPCA in South Africa to replace a stolen trailer used to transport donkeys. It comes in the nick of time as 19 donkeys, recently rescued from the skin trade that is decimating donkey populations in the country, were urgently in need of transport to safer premises.
The trailer, used by the NSPCA’s Special Investigations Unit, was stolen in March 2017 from their training centre premises in Alberton; compromising the welfare organisation’s ability to respond in emergency situations. “This was a blow to our organisation,” explains Christine Kuch from NSPCA. “The trailer is an essential piece of equipment, especially in our current work assisting donkeys.”
Earlier this year, the NSPCA had rescued 19 donkeys from being illegally traded for their skins – they were placed at a temporary shelter near the Lesotho border. But there were fears among NSPCA staff that the donkeys could well be stolen where they were, but without a trailer, it was impossible to move them.
Just days before the trailer was stolen, Alex Mayers, Head of Programmes at The Donkey Sanctuary had been visiting the team at NSPCA and meeting with communities affected by the skin trade. He was shocked to hear the news and immediately responded to the NSPCA’s call for help. He said: “Obviously being able to quickly relocate donkeys out of harm’s way is an important part of NSPCA’s responsiveness to welfare needs, particularly in terms of the skin trade. NSPCA have been working incredibly hard reaching out to donkeys and communities affected by the trade, and I’m glad we were able to step in and help them out.”
The trailer, now in the possession of the NSPCA, has this week been used to move five of the donkeys to a permanent home in Bethlehem in the Free State, and the remaining 14 will be moved in due course. Christine reported to us recently: “We are delighted to report a positive, uplifting and heart-warming outcome relating to donkeys rescued from the horrific trade in their skins. However, the skin trade continues, as do our efforts to monitor situations, respond to information received and to take whatever steps may be appropriate when necessary.”
The Donkey Sanctuary’s Under the Skin report, launched in January 2017, revealed how donkey populations around the world are being decimated by both a legal and illegal trade in donkey skins, with African countries being primary targets. Dozens of reports about cruel and illegal methods of killing donkeys for the trade have been received by The Donkey Sanctuary, revealing that some of the animals have been stolen or poached, poisoned, clubbed to death and even skinned alive.
The NSCPA, along with Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary and Highveld Horse Care Unit are all reporting horrific cases of donkeys being stolen or starved in order to export the skins. They are part of The Donkey Sanctuary’s network of partners across Africa – funded to help promote donkey welfare through community, training and veterinary programme.