Uganda's Bam Animal Clinics-Helping Donkeys During Difficult Times
The covid-19 safeguards that were in place in Uganda, especially in March through May, were strict and far-reaching. Essentially, Bam Animal Clinics was grounded and locked down for 2 months. But once Bam vets received essential status and permission to move about, they were again back in Kween and Bukwo districts (and now reaching Kapchorwa district too), working in under-served communities where donkeys are plentiful. Thanks to our loyal and generous donors, Bam was able to reach remote parts of eastern Uganda with their new motorcycle (picture below with the Bam team and community members at a donkey clinic in Kween), purchased with a covid-19 relief disbursement from AKI.
As the Bam team moved around Kween district, sights like this (photo below) were far too common - a very poorly loaded donkey barely able to remain upright. This donkey is carrying heavy sacks of charcoal.
As always, the Bam team stopped to help the donkey and give advice -and if needed, to donate a sisal sack saddle-to the owner. In the picture below, the Bam team has adjusted the saddle and balanced the load. Thankfully, Bam was at the right place at the right time, injuries to the donkey were avoided, and now, the owner, who so relies on her donkey and can't afford injuries, understands the importance of correctly loading her donkey.
The week of June 21, Bam once again started their community donkey clinics with a one week Donkey Welfare and Health Program in Kween district sponsored by Animal-Kind International. The main focus was on humane handling, feeding, treatment, and housing (2 pictures below). In these clinics, Bam introduces humane saddles and teaches owners how to make these inexpensive saddles out of widely available sisal sacks. Bam's humane saddles provide enough cushion at the back of the donkey, as opposed to the traditional types, which leave the back bruised and with large nasty wounds at the base of the tail.
Between the covid-19 lock down, compounded by the presence of locusts in the region and lack of animal welfare awareness and support, Bam found the conditions "appalling." Donkeys in this area are mainly used for fetching food from gardens, water, firewood, and charcoal and for carrying farm produce to markets. They are rarely given enough time to rest, feed, and drink water-even though they are used to carry food and water for their humans. As above, they are loaded poorly, protective saddles are often not used at all, and when they are used, they are usually used incorrectly-except by those who have been trained by Bam Animal Clinics.
Bam's Donkey Welfare and Health Program continued through the week, providing free care, which is critical during this period of the pandemic and locust invasions, when communities are struggling to survive with little attention given to the animals. Bam's free veterinary services include de-worming, wound treatment, treatment for eye injuries, internal and external parasite treatment, hoof trimming, dealing with causes of lameness, and respiratory diseases. But Bam doesn't only provide care, Bam shows donkey owners how to provide better care themselves, simply and inexpensively; they show owners, through donkey welfare education, what it actually means to humanely handle and care for donkeys.
David Balondemu, Bam Animal Clinics Founder & Director, reminds us that, "Working donkeys have helped shape our history for thousands of years. Once domesticated, we quickly became indebted to them for the role they play in agriculture and transportation, among others. Even today, donkeys continue to sustain the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people here and elsewhere in the world. We’re helping to ensure they’re properly cared for. There are over 0.19 million donkeys in Uganda and they play a significant role in supporting poor communities and people’s livelihoods.
You can help us care for working donkeys – as well as the people who rely so heavily on them - by giving a donation today. Your support, no matter how small, can alleviate great suffering, reduce pain , diseases and even save a life, especially during this covid-19 pandemic period with so much deprivation in these poor communities."