Helping to End Donkey Abuse in Tanzania


Tanzania Humane Charity (TAHUCHA) is an International partner of Animal Aid Abroad since 2016. TAHUCHA do an amazing job with a number of projects, including a new humane cart construction program, a donkey sanctuary, large and small veterinary clinics, and a donkey owners community school children uniform sponsorship in the town of Bukombe. All are funded by Animal Aid Abroad Australia.

TAHUCHA and AAA are determined to address the frequent suffering inflicted on Bukombe’s donkeys. This is most often associated with oxen yoke carts used incorrectly with donkeys, routine beatings and overloading the donkeys with heaver loads than they can safely bear.

We hope to improve the lives of donkeys in this area through making proper carts, training donkey riders and owners to observe load limits and treat donkeys humanely, and providing medication and medical care for donkeys in need.

TAHUCHA has a medical block for hospitalizing badly injured and seriously sick donkeys who need close attention. The same facility is also used to care for undernourished donkeys and rescued orphaned foals from the slaughterhouse after their mothers have been slaughtered for their skins and meat.

The donkey skin trade in Tanzania and Africa in general has several negative impacts, including environmental pollution and animal welfare concerns around how the animals are slaughtered and transported. Additionally, foals are not allowed to be slaughtered by law, so when their mothers are slaughtered, foals are left behind in the slaughterhouse with no food or parental care, where they usually eventually die of hunger. TAHUCHA are determined to care for these abandoned young donkeys in their sanctuary, where there are six foals currently residing and four more arriving soon.

From January to April this year there have been 50 cases of seriously sick and badly injured donkeys admitted for a few days. 44 of those donkeys got better and were discharged under medical guidance. Six donkeys were sadly lost, two of which were confirmed rabies cases and four confirmed tetanus cases. Donkeys in Bukombe serve in forest areas, carrying logs for timber, so they interact with wildlife and can unfortunately contract rabies.

Most of the donkeys come in to the sanctuary due to serious injuries due to overworking, beating, oxen yoke wounds, overloading and hematomas. They also face various other health issues such as tetanus, rabies, exhaustion, tumors and hoof issues.

Currently there are 12 adult donkeys in the sanctuary. Six will be discharged when they are well, but six were rescued and will live in the sanctuary for life, together with the rescued foals from the slaughterhouse.

Donkey owners are called to come to donkey clinics in Bukombe, and from January to April 2019, a total of 1,400 donkeys were treated. Alongside medical treatment, the clinics also teach donkey owners about basic vet care, such as regularly shaving the edges of wounds to make them more visible and cleaning them with soap and water. Owners are also taught the signs and symptoms of sick donkeys and encouraged to report earlier when abnormal signs are noted. Providing this education and training to local owners helps to build confidence among the community and improves the lives of donkeys in tangible ways.

Donkeys in the Geita region of northwest Tanzania serve in a range of environments including kilns, households, markets, farms, forests and mines. In all situations, just as in Bukombe, they are overworked, working longer than five hours at a time, pulling heavy carts that are too large and overloaded for them, pulling weights well beyond their capacity, badly beaten and enduring raw and bleeding wounds on their necks caused by the use of yokes. One practical solution is to change the harnessing used, and from January to April 2019, TAHUCHA constructed 20 carts, which were donated to replace the old yoke style.

Thanks to TAHUCHA and AAA’s supporters for helping the dire situation in Tanzania for donkeys. Together, we shall make a huge difference.

Featured image: a donkey is brought to one of TAHUCHA’s donkey health clinics. This image and all images in this story via TAHUCHA and AAA.

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About Author

Founded in 2007, Animal Aid Abroad runs projects and initiatives in 12 different countries and has partnerships with around 18 animal welfare organisations and project partners globally. Together, they assist hundreds of abused, sick, and injured working animals in very poor and difficult regions. AAA is dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys, mules, bullocks, camels, and other animals. Click to see author's profile.

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