International animal charity SPANA is establishing veterinary services in Botswana to improve the health and welfare of more than 24,000 working donkeys.
The Botswana branch of SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) will run a free mobile veterinary clinic that will initially visit 10 villages around the town of Maun, travelling more than 250km each week. The population of donkeys in Maun is so large that the town is known locally as ‘Donkey Town’.
These donkeys enable the poorest people to earn a living by ploughing and carrying goods, firewood and water.
As well as veterinary treatment, SPANA will also be providing animal welfare training and education to the local community. This will help to reduce the avoidable problems facing the donkeys, such as wounds caused by poorly-fitting harnesses, and build greater respect for the animals amongst their owners.
SPANA Chief Executive Jeremy Hulme said the new programme was desperately needed to help the many thousands of donkeys suffering in Botswana.
“There are currently very few local vets and poor families have no way of paying for treatment when their animals are sick or injured. The low status of donkeys also means their welfare is rock bottom as a priority,” he said.
“This is why SPANA’s involvement is so important. The free veterinary care and humane equipment we provide will have an immediate, positive impact on the health and wellbeing of these donkeys. But through our community training and education work, we are also determined to make a long-term, lasting difference to the welfare of animals in Botswana – changing the attitudes and practices of animal owners for generations to come.”
Donkeys in Botswana face a wide range of injuries, illnesses and conditions. These include agonising pressure sores and severe wounds caused by inappropriate harnesses, ill-fitting bits and improvised ‘hobbles’ for their legs. Donkeys are also vulnerable to attacks from predators such as hyenas and road accidents, particularly at night. Additionally, ocular disease, poor farriery and wounds are some of the many issues resulting from basic welfare problems.
SPANA has been the charity for the working animals of the world since it was formed in London in 1923, providing free veterinary care to horses, donkeys, mules and camels in some of the world’s poorest countries. The charity improves the welfare of working animals in three ways: free veterinary treatment, education and training, and emergency and outreach projects.
It is estimated that there are around 200 million working animals worldwide that do the jobs of trucks, tractors and taxis, many of which work to support impoverished communities in developing countries.
More on SPANA’s work in Botswana