At the end of August, AKI Partner Bam Animal Clinics-Uganda headed to Kween District to hold training courses in sisal saddle making and good animal welfare practices for donkeys. Sisal saddles are easy and inexpensive to make and use, and they're much more humane than more commonly used methods-usually no saddles or frayed cloths (you'll see some examples below).
Besides using poorly constructed or no saddles, donkey loads are usually too heavy and poorly balanced, resulting in injuries to donkeys. Bam always combines sisal saddle making courses with free donkey vet clinics. AKI donors provide the funds so Bam can train donkey owners, hold free clinics, and for follow-up monitoring.
In August, Bam Animal Clinics activities were organized by Bam contact staff in Kween District, Kaproron Subcounty. Most activities were held in small clusters versus the larger, all-community trainings and vet clinics that Bam more often has held.
The Bam team started their mornings very early to track down donkeys on their way to market with produce. They encountered several instances of poorly loaded donkeys.
One group of donkeys was carrying firewood to Kapchorwa town. The donkeys were heavily loaded and without proper saddles. The team stopped the owners and showed them the proper way to load their donkeys.
This woman's donkey was badly overloaded and had a frayed saddle, but she refused to stop:
This group of donkeys (pictures below) was carrying loads for market day. Going where the donkeys work versus having everyone come to the clinics proved to be a very effective and efficient way to reach donkeys and their owners.
(Above, the Bam Animal Clinics team gave advice and help with loading, and provided on-the-spot vet care to donkeys carrying loads to market.)
Bam also found that training in small clusters worked well. It's not easy to have all donkey owners attend Bam's humane handling training programs. The difficult terrain, because donkeys and their owners usually start work early in the morning and may be gone all day, or for other unknown reasons, not all owners can come to come to a central location for training.
In August, Bam Animal Clinics focused on going where the donkeys and their owners are.
This woman (below) uses her donkey for plowing and to transport all kinds of items. The Bam team examined the donkey and noticed she had many wounds that needed care. The owner was advised to rest the donkey till the wounds were healed and the team trained her to make humane sisal saddles to stop further injuries from happening.
Bam's home-to-home visits in donkey keeper communities in Kween District identified progress that Bam has made over these past years providing training and vet care. The team noted that in several cases, attitudes of donkey owners towards their donkeys had improved. Owners were resting their donkeys, providing shade, water, and had learned to check for injuries. There seemed to be less hustling than in the past, where if an animal wasn't being used by the family, the owner would try to rent the donkey out without giving the donkey any rest, only with the intention of making more money from the poor donkey. These findings were heartening to the Bam team, who has worked so hard to get their messages and trainings across.
Below are some of the donkeys who have benefited from Bam's ongoing training and vet care in communities in Kween District: