• Animal-Kind International

TAWESO Expands to Southern Tanzania to Help Donkeys!


AKI primarily supports TAWESO's donkey clinics. Depending on the donations that AKI receives, AKI supports 3-4 TAWESO donkey clinics every year, helping about 2000 donkeys and their owners in central Tanzania. As you'll read below, converting from the single shaft, heavy carts with yoke to double shaft, lighter carts, is the main key to alleviating the suffering of donkeys in southern Tanzania. But to do this will require a significant amount of funding. To help Tanzania's donkeys, please designate the TAWESO donkey program here, https://www.animal-kind.org/aki-donate --THANK YOU!

Tanzania Animal Welfare Society (TAWESO) recently visited southern Tanzania after being invited there to help find ways to alleviate the suffering of the donkeys in the zone. Our team was comprised of me-Dr. Thomas W. Kahema (Executive Director), Mr. Gabriel Mtyani (TAWESO Central Zone Manager), and Andrew Mhando (Community Mobilization Officer). We visited two different areas (one is 400 km from our Central Zone office called Njombe Region and the other is in Iringa Region called Migoli about 100 kilometres from our office).

We provided initial Donkey Humane Education as the donkey owners had no information about how to care for their donkeys. We also formed donkey owners groups.

1. IRINGA RURAL DISTRICT Iringa Rural district is in the south of Tanzania and we visited Migoli area, which is around Mtera dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in Tanzania (The dam is one of the best places in Tanzania to observe birds and there are millions of dead trees in it and is very rich in fish.)

• Donkey Lives Donkeys are the main means of transportation of fish, water, building materials, and agricultural produce for over 60 villages surrounding the dam. The villages are situated 2 to 10 kilometres away from the dam due to the need to protect the environment. The donkeys are heavily worked and overloaded on a non-stop basis, as the owners use them as taxis or pickups and employ young people (recent primary school graduates) to operate them, who must give an agreed on amount of money to the owners per day. These boys work the animals by running them quickly so they can get money for their bosses and remain with some as their own profit. Otherwise, they are not paid, so they have to work hard to meet the required amount for the owners and then have a profit for themselves. As a result, the donkeys have very poor body condition scores (1.5 to 2.0) and horrible wounds due to use of yokes and beatings to speed up while working.

There are over 1000 carts operating in the area surrounding the Mtera dam according to the Livestock Extension Officer, Mr. Ngwisha. It is an area which needs urgent intervention and due to horrible wounds and working conditions, there are many deaths of the donkeys due to tetanus and exhaustion.

The changing of the cart design from single shaft heavy carts using yokes to double shaft light carts for the donkeys to use their chests to pull is needed. The TAWESO team talked with the donkey owners while providing humane education and all accepted the approach.

Currently, it is extremely dry and the donkeys have nothing to eat. We saw them eating soil and scavenging in rubbish areas for food.

Photographs of TAWESO's work in Iringa district are below.


Dr. Thomas Kahema speaks to the donkey owners in Iringa district


Donkey owners and their donkeys working at the hydroelectric dam


Sores from overloading and overworking donkeys and using yolks with single shaft system


Typical donkey carts used in Iringa district


It's been very dry in Iringa and the only food for donkeys is in the rubbish dumps


These single shaft, heavy carts with yokes are very uncomfortable for donkeys


Dr. Thomas checks a working donkey to see if he has sores


Sores on a pair of working donkeys - due to the yoke, heavy cart, single shaft system, and over-work

2. NJOMBE REGION (WAGING’OMBE) IN MAWINDI AREA Here there is a group working with vulnerable children called Nyumba Ya Upendo, and its Director, Patrick Ilegems, and the area Livestock Extension officer invited us to conduct Humane Education to the donkey owners as the donkeys are in very poor condition. Njombe is mountainous and is located in the Southern Highlands, about 2000 ft above sea level.

• Donkey Lives The donkeys in the area mainly pull carts and carry grains, building materials, and are used to transport people. Due to the nature of the working environment, in particular, working in the highlands, many donkeys have hoof overgrowth. And because of the yokes they have wounds and their body condition score is poor (1.5 to 2.0). Also, they have very rough coats, in large part, due to the very severe mineral deficiencies because of the nature of the soil in the highlands (lack of calcium and phosphorus).

The owners said that when the donkeys lie down, they can only get up with great difficulty and following or during foaling, they lie down and sometimes they never get back up and die.

The TAWESO team conducted donkey humane education training to the donkey owners and formed groups. The donkey owners are ready to change the current model of heavy single shaft carts to lighter double shaft carts.

Pictures of the team's work in Mawindi area are below.


Dr. Thomas Kahema leads a humane ed lesson for the donkey owners


Some of the donkey owners in Mawindi with the TAWESO team


The TAWESO team checks a working donkey and demonstrates a humane harness


Dr. Thomas Kahema shows the donkey owners some of the humane methods that can be used with working donkeys

TAWESO is grateful to be invited to many parts of the country and very honoured as we have also a donkey welfare group at the United Republic of Tanzania President’s Home Village in Chato district in North West of Tanzania in Geita Region and also at the village of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania in Kongwa district in the Central Tanzania.

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