Animal Welfare Society: helping working animals in the north of Cameroon
By Dr. Achiri Fru Martin, Founder and President
[From AKI: AWES submitted a proposal to AKI's 2019 Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant Program. Although not successful, we are committed to supporting worthy animal welfare organizations in non-financial ways, as well as financially. Although we didn't have the funds to support the AWES proposal, we are impressed with their work and we wish to recognize their contribution to animal welfare in Cameroon. We thank Dr. Martin for writing this article for the AKI Blog.]
In rural areas in the north of Cameroon, peasant farmers depend greatly on donkeys and other working animals (horses and mules) for survival. They are used to plow farms and they are a cheap means of transport. In return for their work, working animals do not get back from the community the much-deserved attention they should and are often left to agonize with inadequate nutrition and untreated injuries which may lead to their death.
Animal Welfare Society (AWES) of Cameroon’s key mission is the protection of animals and preventing cruelty to working and companion animals. Given the abundance and their vital role to the rural population, we focus mostly on working animals, mainly donkeys, but also horses and mules.
AWES has an objective to ameliorate the living and working conditions of donkeys, horses, and mules. We achieve this through the provision of basic health services and through education and sensitization campaigns on animal welfare issues in general and on proper management and care of working animals.
We first identify areas with a high concentration of working animals. Based on this, our current focus area is in Garoua, north region of Cameroon, where we intervene mostly in the surrounding villages and suburbs where farming is done using donkeys. In an ongoing effort to alleviate the suffering of working animals, AWES continuously provides basic health services, including physical examinations.
We are currently engaged in providing care for donkeys that cotton farmers in Garoua use to plow their fields. There, we provide basic health services, including, but not limited to: de-worming, treatment of injuries and lameness, parasite control (external and internal), and vaccination against tetanus.
Along with direct animal care, we always include training and sensitization of owners on working animal management and welfare. We impact mostly the rural population who are poor and depend largely on these animals for survival and where veterinary services, unfortunately, are almost nonexistent.
Beginning this August (NOW!), SPANA, U.K. is supporting an AWES project to treat about 500 donkeys belonging to 250 cotton-producing farmers. We are excited to spread our impact to more donkeys and their owners.
Because of inadequate care coupled with the devastating increase in the donkey skin trade, whereby donkeys are slaughtered for their skins, their population is diminishing. Donkeys in Cameroon must be protected from local extinction. To begin to address this problem, in 2018, we were awarded a 3 month (July-Sept 2018) grant by a local NGO, FAWCAM. For this project, AWES volunteers, in collaboration with me, Dr. Achiri Martin, identified donkey concentration points and markets in the region from where donkeys are being trafficked across Nigeria for the skin trade.
We are a volunteer organization with a president and secretary who are veterinary professionals. We employ occasional staff such as a driver, when the need arises. Of course we work closely with animal owners, and we also work with parastatals like SODECOTON, a cotton producing company. SODECOTON gladly collaborates with us since we are dealing with donkeys that are used by cotton-producing farmers to till the soil. Along with AWES and donkey owners, SODECOTON also wants to see donkeys in good health and treated well so they can contribute to the livelihoods of cotton producers and live pain-free and healthy lives.