In Tanzania, a huge East African country, donkeys are nothing more than beasts of burden. They are routinely treated with abominable cruelty by local people who do not have the faintest idea of how to treat donkeys, or that they are intelligent creatures who feel pain and suffer just as humans do.
Our partner, the Arusha Society for Protection of Animals (ASPA), alerted us to a dreadful situation in a remote rural region called Mirongoine. Once a week, Masai tribespeople use donkeys to carry their produce to this market and then load them again to take other goods home, treating them with merciless casual cruelty in the process.
We immediately sent a team to investigate.
What we witnessed confirmed our worst fears and left no doubt that we needed to act … and for that, we need your help.
On one Saturday, we found more than 1,000 donkeys at the market, all of them massively overladen, hungry and exhausted. They had been forced to walk from dawn, with no food or water - often walking more than 10 miles (16 kilometers). Their haunches are striped with open wounds from poor harnessing, and if they falter on the journey, they are tormented by being whipped on their hind legs. Most of these 1,000 creatures will not have a drop to drink the entire day. Once unloaded, they are tied up in the hot African sun, without food and water, until it is time for them to be overloaded again for the long journey back.
We watched as four women loaded a donkey with charcoal. It took all four of them to lift a sack. Veterinarian Dr. Frank Alkada, NFA’s David Barritt and I (Gloria Davies) tried to lift one sack and failed. Once the women had loaded the donkey with one brutally heavy sack, they ADDED THREE MORE!
When we explained that this was terribly cruel, they completely failed to understand why we were upset, saying that carrying heavy loads is what donkeys are for!
These words are not exaggerations - they are the simple ghastly truth. It gets worse…
This is not an isolated incident! Shocking abuse of donkeys is commonplace at dozens of rural markets in the area, every week of the year!
The abuse piled on donkeys might be technically illegal, but no policeman is going to intervene because they do not see it as a crime. Of course, we had to take action.
We cannot change the treatment of Tanzanian donkeys overnight. What we can do is mitigate suffering, and to do so, we need to be able to count on your generosity.
The two most pressing needs are shade and water. In summer, temperatures are 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) (climate change might soon make temperatures even higher) and the donkeys at the market have nowhere to hide from the scorching heat.
- We promised to provide protected areas where the donkeys can rest in shade. If we can raise just $2,000 (£1,740), we can build a simple shelter with a concrete floor and tin roof that will be a Godsend to 200 donkeys. Even one shelter like this will help donkeys throughout the year, sparing them heat exhaustion and making their suffering a little less extreme.
- For $3,000 (£2,610), we can also add troughs for water.
At the moment, there is no water supply to the area, but we hope to deal with that soon. While trucks do deliver water to the market and sell it to people, who fill as many five-gallon plastic tanks as they can and load them on donkeys, in rich irony, because water is expensive, they don’t give any to the donkeys.
We have discovered an old reservoir in the area and are working to see if we can revive it and pipe water to the market. We will keep you posted on progress.
- A third thing we MUST do is give the numerous injured donkeys medical treatment.
We are working with ASPA to have a veterinarian regularly visit the market and give care to as many donkeys as he can. But this means treating several hundred donkeys every week, and that is a challenging task that will require unwavering commitment from our supporters, such as a monthly donation. So, please seriously consider this option when donating today.
We were horrified by what we saw in this market and have partnered with ASPA to begin work immediately to STOP DONKEY ABUSE in Tanzania.
It will be a long road, and we depend on animal lovers like you to allow us to do what needs to be done. We will start right with simple measures such as shelter, but as always with NFA, we will be there as long as we possibly can, making life better for animals. Please stand side-by-side with us right now and donate generously to fight for cruelly abused gentle donkeys.
For the animals,
Brian and Gloria Davies (and Max and Flora!)
Network for Animals
P.S. Some Masai have a tradition that when a donkey dies after years of abuse, they throw coins in the poor thing’s burial pit to ‘thank’ it for years of service. They never think for one moment how much they caused the poor creature to suffer during those years! We must change this attitude, and we need your help to do so. Please donate if you possibly can, so that together, we can provide shade, water and medical care to make the lives a little better for donkeys every day.