News

    Kenya's Donkeys Finally Receive Some Protection

    Jill Craig

    In today's modern world, it is easy to overlook some of the hardest working members of the working class. Donkeys remain a staple of everyday life in many places, but they are often overworked, neglected and mistreated. Now, animal protection groups in Kenya are speaking up for the beasts of burden.

    There are approximately 600,000 donkeys in Kenya, the majority of whom move heavy carts filled with water containers, firewood and other necessary supplies for their owners.

    This is not a bucolic existence. These animals live in crowded conditions, in close contact with stray dogs sometimes infected with rabies. They are occasionally struck by cars on busy highways, are underfed and occasionally beaten.

    Jean Gilchrist is the director of the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals. She has worked with the organization for 26 years, helping to improve the quality of life for animals, including donkeys.

    "It's not just in Kenya either," said Gilchrist.  "It's something that happens worldwide. India, Ethiopia, Mexico, I don't know, it's something about the donkey that, their role in life, which is basically with the poor people who are scraping a living."

    Gilchrist compares donkeys to rental cars, battered and overworked with no regard for their well-being.

    "And, very often, the donkeys are hired out to young men that don't have jobs," noted Gilchrist.  "And, they don't care if the donkey collapses and dies. And, a lot of them get beaten so badly, as well, even if they're running as fast as they can."

    To alleviate this suffering, a British charity called the Donkey Sanctuary has organized mobile health clinics around Kenya, treating thousands of donkeys since 1994.

    Tabitha Wainaina, a veterinarian, has volunteered in the clinics for the last five years.

    "These animals are viewed as working animals," said Wainaina.  "So the attitude is, as long as they get the work done, then a lot of attention is not paid to their medical care and the kind of nutrition they are getting and the kind of shelter they are being provided with."

    Donkeys are often injured by ill-fitting and improper harnesses. Many owners simply put a rope around the donkey's neck, causing painful sores when the animal hauls heavy carts.

    Daniel Njuguna works for the Donkey Sanctuary, teaching owners how to make their own harnesses from local materials, like blankets, pieces of mattress, or old clothes.

    "I help them by telling them, do your donkey like this. Harnessing like this, not that way. I show them how to do it," said Njuguna.

    Njuguna is a vigilant advocate for the donkeys and tries to stop abuse wherever he sees it, including around his own village. It is not easy.

    "I tell them, don't hit your donkey," Njuguna added.  "Some of them say, 'No, it is mine! I can do what I like!'"

    Donkeys are rarely vaccinated, making them highly susceptible to rabies, tetanus, African horse sickness and worms.

    But Wainaina says owners are starting to realize the benefits of vaccinations.

    "Yes, the moment they are properly educated about the benefits of taking care of their animals, then they realize that the animal is actually going to work better and is going to live longer," Wainaina noted.  "And that will translate to eventually, better economic output for them."

    For all their efforts, volunteers with the Donkey Sanctuary abide by a very simple motto, "Happy Donkey, Happy Owner."

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jerry C
    March 12, 2012 8:42 PM
    Informative article showing the plight of the beasts of burden.

    by: Robert G
    March 02, 2012 9:42 AM
    Solid cheap practical help in community settings. Should be more of this!

    by: Purple trees
    March 01, 2012 1:09 PM
    Don't hate donkeys ay

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora