Bam Animal Clinics helping donkeys in eastern Uganda - February 2021
In early February, the Bam Animal Clinics team (photo below) was in eastern Uganda in Kween District in the sub-counties of Kitowoi, Tarak parish, and in Kapkworos ward, Binyiny County. Bam's contact vets in these communities mobilized donkey owners for Bam's 1st visit there. These communities had never before received Bam services--free donkey welfare clinics and training in humane saddle-making. This work was funded entirely by Animal-Kind International donors.
Bam's work focuses on the importance of good care and welfare of donkeys. Bam describes to donkey owners why work limits are so important (that donkeys can't be worked day after day pulling heavy loads with no rest and inadequate feeding and watering); donkey feeding and nutritional requirements; proper loading; basic care that owners can provide, such as treatment of wounds, parasites, skin issues, and monitoring donkey health and well-being; and how to construct simple shelters for their donkeys. Bam emphasizes community policing and construction of fences to minimize donkey theft and in general to keep donkeys safe, especially at night.
Through regular contact with District vets in the communities where Bam has worked, they get reports about the tremendous improvements seen in the way donkeys are handled and that the new sisal saddles are widely accepted. The contact vets specifically mention that they see people using the sisal saddles when taking produce from field to home and to markets, that the saddles are in good condition, and the donkeys are loaded properly.
Bam Animal Clinics-February 2021
Having been mobilized by the contact vets, upon Bam's arrival, the donkey owners and their families are already gathered. Following introductions, Bam describes the saddle making process and the importance of using the saddles correctly and maintaining them. They describe how the sisal saddles provide ample cushion on the donkey while carrying loads and that they are designed to prevent damage at the back of the tails and on the back of the donkey. And then the group gets to work making sisal saddles (photos below of one of the February trainings).
Along with trainings in sisal saddle making, Bam held free community clinics in these 1st time visited sub-counties. Bam diagnosed problems and treated working donkeys (photos from a February community clinic below). During these clinics, Bam shows owners how they too can provide basic treatments. Owners often see how quickly their donkeys feel better and their performance improves.
Bam vets treated a wound on a donkey's ankle that resulted from tethering with a rope:
Bam Animal Clinics understands that the communities they serve are very poor and have no disposable income, but still, they need to take responsibility for the care of their donkeys. In their trainings and clinics, Bam emphasizes the responsibilities of donkey owners and reminds them that Bam's free services are a benefit, but should not be relied on indefinitely.
David Balondemu, Bam's Founder & Director, describes their approach this way: "I believe and I have seen that our clinics are eye openers to the donkeys owners and once they see the healing process of once wounded donkeys, they will want to treat others when they have similar issues. They will put money aside for necessary drugs that they can purchase at drug outlets and easily use to treat the donkeys themselves. This is also what we tell them during training -- that they needed to understand that routine checkups and treatment are quite necessary even in our absence."
The AKI-Bam Partnership
For their donkey welfare work, AKI Partner Organization, Bam Animal Clinics, focuses on eastern Uganda, where donkeys are most commonly used in the country. The landscape in most areas in eastern Uganda is characterized by hills and valleys and some high mountains (see photo below). Roads are few and often inaccessible, and footpaths are the primary way to reach more remote villages. Sometimes it requires taking a very long route to reach a nearby point. During rainy seasons, most feeder roads are unusable by motorists, and this leaves only one option of transport--donkeys.
In these communities, donkeys are used to transport water, firewood, and produce from farms to markets or homes. Due to poor welfare and a lack of awareness of good care, the donkeys are easily fatigued and fall sick. Due to poor harnessing and loading, many have serious wounds. They are unable to perform as well as they could and many suffer and die prematurely. Except for Bam's interventions, vet care has been inaccessible to the donkey owners due to distance and cost.
Bam Animal Clinics, with support from Animal-Kind International, is working to improve the situation for donkeys in the region. While good care of animals is Bam's primary concern, by improving the welfare and health of the donkeys, they are also improving the livelihood prospects of the people living there. Thank you very much to all those who support our work!