Christmas treat with donkeys aglow in Botswana

December 17, 2013 1:03 PM

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Christmas treat with donkeys aglow in Botswana

A thousand donkeys in Botswana are being tagged with special reflective eartags which will give a special shine this Christmas and help reduce the number of road traffic accidents they cause.

London-based charity SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has funded partner charity The Maun Animal Welfare Society (MAWS) in Botswana to attach reflectors to donkeys’ ears in Maun and the surrounding areas.

Donkeys and livestock in Botswana commonly roam free on roads in search of grazing and at night drivers are often unable to see them in time to brake. About 10 per cent* of road traffic accidents in Botswana are caused by domestic animals such as livestock and donkeys.

SPANA outreach veterinary programme advisor Laura Higham said thousands of poor families rely on the income they can generate from working their donkeys for their livelihoods, but often have no choice other than to let their donkeys roam freely in search of food.

“This Christmas we hope that these simple gifts for the donkeys of Botswana will help reduce the number of collisions caused by the animals every year, and potentially help save their lives and the lives of motorists.”

The UNFAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations) estimated that there were more than 338,000 donkeys in Botswana in 2011.

A project to attach tags to 500 donkeys in the area last year has already been successful, said MAWS chair Ally Lamb. “The reflective tagging programme has so far been extremely well received. Donkey owners have been very receptive to this novel method of protecting their animals against traffic injuries, while vehicle drivers, and the community in general, have praised our efforts at improving road safety.

“Preliminary results from our 2012 project indicate a reduction in road deaths for the tagged donkeys, so we are very excited about extending the programme.”

As part of the programme, MAWS will also run animal welfare workshops for local donkey owners. These will include information on spotting animal illness and injury, as well as best practice in how to care for their animals.

Maun Animal Welfare Society (MAWS) is a charity that provides free veterinary care to the animals of low-income individuals in and around Maun, northern Botswana. Its purpose-built clinic hosts international volunteer vets year-round who sterilise and vaccinate dogs and cats, provide life-saving emergency treatment, and humanely euthanases animals beyond help.

The organisation reunites, rehomes and rehabilitates lost, found and stray animals, educates owners about the importance of responsible animal care, and provides an emergency first-response service to injured livestock.

In 2011 16 fatal road traffic accidents including domestic animals occurred and 356 injuries. (Botswana Central Statistics Report 2011, page 15)


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