AKI donors support Bam Animal Clinics' donkey welfare activities in eastern Uganda, such as humane saddle making trainings and free community clinics for donkeys.
At the end of June, Bam held a humane saddle making training in Kamet subcounty, Bukwo District and then during the rest of the week, followed up with other donkey welfare activities in the subcounty, including a community vet clinic. This was the 1st time that Bam Animal Clinics worked in this subcounty.
Bam Animal Clinics and veterinary staff in Bukwo District mobilized donkey owners to attend the saddle making and vet clinics. It took about 3 days to cover the large, mountainous area and reach as many donkey owners as they can accommodate at the training and clinic.
For the saddle making training, Bam gathered over 100 sisal sacks and sewing materials. The one-day training program started with demonstrations carried out by Bam Animal Clinics' staff, showing the group of 100 donkey owners how to make sisal saddles. After the demo, the participants broke into 5 groups and each group made at least one sisal saddle and practiced fitting it on one of their donkeys.
Of course, not all donkey owners in the area have the time to participate and Bam can't reach out to everyone with a donkey, so they encourage those who learn how to make and use humane saddles to teach others.
A total of 215 donkeys were brought to the one-day community vet clinic. You have to be very organized and have all the right meds, materials, and technical help to handle that many donkeys in one day. Not to mention the dogs (which we’ll mention later).
Most of the donkey owners at the clinic said that they had never before had their donkeys treated by a professional. For the most part, the donkey owners believe that donkeys are resistant to diseases.
During the clinic, the vets treated a range of conditions, from mild to severe, including cases of foot rot, lacerated hooves, fractured limbs, skin dermatitis due to burrowing mites, illnesses, wounds on backs, and the usual tail cuts, the latter two conditions caused by poor or no harnessing and heavy loads. Most of the donkeys had never been de-wormed before and likely carried a heavy worm burden, so they were treated with ivermectin. Although no one expects these donkeys to be worm-free, many of the donkeys that Bam Animal Clinics saw were in poor condition, and worms only make their overall condition worse and the donkeys weaker.
Some of the cases that Bam treated required follow-up. Bam has a network of community animal health workers, vets, and District Veterinary Officers who are able to assist once the main Bam team leaves the subcounty. Bam's contact vet for Bukwo will report to Bam about how the donkeys are doing and about any additional help the owners and donkeys might need.
Most donkey owners have dogs and Bam asked that they bring their dogs to the clinic so they could be vaccinated and given check ups. Bam treated the dogs for fleas, ticks, mange, and vaccinated them against rabies. Animal-Kind International's support -although targeting donkeys-covered this, as well.
Despite the contributions donkeys make to these rural communities, the management, handling, and care of donkeys are poor and it's a great challenge for Bam to work with donkey owners to try to change this. Lack of awareness of good practices and lack of veterinary services are the main problems and Bam, with their partners, will continue to address these to the best of their abilities.