Animal Welfare Society of Cameroon: Helping Donkeys and the People who Rely on Them
Dr. Achiri Fru Martin is the Founder and President of the Animal Welfare Society of Cameroon. Dr. Martin started AWS on 27 January 2017 to protect and prevent cruelty to animals. Given their abundance in rural areas and vital role in rural populations, AWES focuses more on, but does not limit their work to, donkeys, horses, and mules. AWES’s specific objectives are to provide health care services for and encourage good care of companion animals, especially working animals, while sensitizing their owners on animal welfare and its importance. AWES works in Garoua, north region of Cameroon, mostly in the surrounding villages and suburbs, where farmers rely on donkeys, and sometimes mules and cattle, for plowing. Dr. Martin updated us on AWES most recent de-worming and treatment exercise.
For this project funded by SPANA, we will be working with four farmer groups, called Common Initiative Groups (CIGs). The four CIGs consist of about 200 farmers with about 400 donkeys, who use them to plow their cotton fields. Currently, we are working with the Badjengo CIG, consisting of 58 members, each having one, two, or three donkeys. So far, we have de-wormed a total of 80 donkeys and treated about 10 minor cases of wounds, mostly from poor tethering and improper fitting of the harness.
De-worming is important to do on a regular basis-every six months-to ensure that animals remain in a healthy state, and for donkeys it is especially important because it means they will have the required energy to do the work that’s expected of them. The donkeys we are treating have never before been de-wormed.
Despite their tremendous assistance in plowing and transportation, their owners, who are mostly peasant farmers cannot afford the needed veterinary care and proper management of these animals. In areas where farmers use horses and cattle for plowing, of course we also provide vet care for them. But most small farmers can’t afford horses and use donkeys and cattle.
Our activity has aroused the enthusiasm of the farmers and when they see the positive impact on their donkeys and the improved work they get from the donkeys, I'm sure they will be willing to pay for de-worming and other vet care when our current funding ends. If their donkeys are stronger and healthier, they will work better and farmers can make more money. During sensitization exercises, we explain to the farmers about the need for continued care of their donkeys.
Our free donkey clinics are windows for us to access the farmers and bring animal welfare issues to bear within each community where we work. We remain in contact with each community for follow up care and also to get their impression of how the care of their animals is going. This helps build confidence in us and our work and establishes a good working climate. I hope with all these we will have some positive results at the end.
The northern region of Cameroon where we work is at risk of African Horse Sickness, a vector -borne viral disease that affects both donkeys and horses. Early this year, there was an outbreak that registered high mortality among the donkey population. In this light, Animal Welfare Society of Cameroon is considering coming out with a project to seek funds to control this vector Culicoides through the use of low-risk insecticides and mosquitoes traps and nets around stables. As we speak, the risk is still there.