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  • Writer's pictureAnimal-Kind International

Bam Animal Clinics-Uganda + AKI: helping donkeys, Feb 2024

On February 12, the Bam Animal Clinics team traveled to Bukwo District in eastern Uganda to carry out several Animal-Kind International-funded trainings and clinics aimed at improving donkey care and welfare in the district. The Bam team traveled to different sub-counties, parishes, and villages, and along the way, they interacted with farmers and donkey owners.


On their entry into Brim sub-county, the Bam team met two women with their donkeys carrying firewood. The Bam team stopped them to chat. But it wasn't just a social visit. The underlying aim was to share information about how to improve the way their donkeys were loaded.

donkey carrying load and donkey's baby
One of the donkeys had a baby who was trying to suckle while mama was carrying a load of firewood.

Since they were only about a kilometer from the training venue, the Bam team invited the women to join the training to learn more. Both women participated in the humane saddle making class.


Near Brim sub-county headquarters, the team saw more donkeys loaded with firewood and again the team talked to the owners about ways to improve the loading of their donkeys. They also encouraged the owners to give their donkeys adequate time to rest, water, and feed. Bam invited this group to the saddle making training and the community vet clinic, and they attended, as well.

donkeys carrying firewood
A group of donkeys loaded with firewood. Their owners were invited and attended Bam's clinic and training.

Still making their way to the training venue, the Bam team came across several donkeys carrying sacks of charcoal. These sacks are very heavy and can easily cause major damage to donkeys who carry them. The Bam team offered to check the donkeys for injuries and found that most had severe wounds caused by improper loading. The Bam team treated the donkeys there, but the owners declined the offer to attend the clinic and training, claiming they needed to get to their destination as quickly as possible.

donkeys carrying sacks of charcoal
Donkeys carrying sacks of charcoal

poor loading caused many wounds
The Bam team found that most donkeys in this group had severe wounds from improper loading.

When the Bam team reached the venue, they found many donkeys, owners, and school children already gathered and waiting for the sessions to begin. Thanks to the work of the local district team, tasked with notifying people about the free saddle-making training and donkey treatments, about 300 donkeys were on-site.


Bam staff interact with children at the donkey clinics
Many children attended the community gathering to learn more about good donkey care.


community donkey clinic
About 300 donkeys awaited check-ups at Bam's free clinic

The Bam team started out by speaking to the crowd about:

o   The importance of getting regular check-ups to ensure their donkeys remain strong and in good health.

o   Sticking to limits on working hours and maximum loads that a donkey can carry, and taking breaks for food, water, and rest.

o   Constructing simple shelters for their donkeys to keep them safe from thieves and wildlife, and to protect them from inclement weather.

o   Community policing to minimize theft of donkeys.


community donkey clinic
The Bam team checked every donkey for wounds, injuries, illnesses, and provided free treatment.


community donkey clinic
Each donkey received specialized care.

Next, the Bam team separated donkey owners into small groups for the humane saddle making training. Using sisal sacks, the trainers showed donkey owners how to create a cushioned saddle that will protect donkeys from wounds on their tails, legs, and back.


humane saddle making
Saddle making sessions are offered in small groups.

humane saddle making training class
Making a humane sisal saddle

humane saddle making class
Once the saddles are completed, Bam trainers show how to fit them and how to load donkeys in a humane, safe manner.

Bam distributed over 200 saddles--at no cost--during the training sessions, thanks to Animal-Kind International supporters!

 

At community vet clinics, in addition to injuries from improper loading, the Bam team usually treats many other health issues, such as eye conditions, foot rot, chronic emaciation, and overgrown hooves. Usually the team treats these on the spot, but some need follow-up by Bam's local contacts. Bam documents every owner and donkey who requires a follow-up visit.

donkey with injured eye
This donkey had ainjury below his eye requiring more specialized treatment and follow-up.

On this trip, the Bam team also visited Chepkwasta sub-county, their 2nd trip since February 2021. They saw some of the donkeys they had treated three years earlier!


One memory from 2021 that loomed large was Mr Masokoto's donkey, which the Bam team had treated for several cancerous tumors. Three years later, they saw that same donkey with the scars from the healed lesions.

donkey who was treated for cancerous lesions
Donkey treated for cancerous lesions in 2021--she's in fairly good shape now and the only reminder of the cancer she had are the scars.

The Bam Animal Clinics team also made a courtesy visit to the Bukwo District Veterinary and Production Department, where they discussed animal welfare in the district, especially as it pertains to donkeys. Both the District Veterinary Officer and the District Production Officer emphasized the need for Bam to access the more remote sub-counties to help the donkey owners there.    


Bam Animal Clinics' David Balondemu told us, "We are pleased to inform you that ever since our program started within Bukwo District, we have had the maximum cooperation with staff there. We thank the entire leadership of Bukwo District and the communities who always turn up for our welfare trainings in various sub-counties. In April, our team will be in Bukwo again as there were several sub-counties we never reached due to bad roads."


We are grateful to those of you who support Animal-Kind International and our work to improve the lives of donkeys. For the February clinics and trainings, we are especially grateful for the generous donation from AKI supporter Rhys.

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