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February 2009


Well, February has been quite a roller-coaster ride, so much so that March has just snuck up on me and that has left me running through my diary to find out where February went!


About a year ago I was invited to go and speak to the ROAR group at Rhodes University.   This is a group of students who are animal activists and they had decided to help, but just did not know how to and what to do – but they were willing.  It was a very pleasant evening as I recall, and the upshot is that the students have already been assisting Annerie Wolmarans with the Grahamstown donkeys along with Jenny Copley.  Annerie has been in the print media before with her care for donkeys, but was pretty much solitary and it was so nice to know that the students were there for her and getting involved.

The group have arranged a donkey clinic in the townships of Grahamstown every second week, and I popped up at the beginning of February to spend some time with them and to also try and see what the ECHCU could do to assist.

Time seemed to slip by very quickly as a number of Carters arrived as well as a whole bunch of unescorted donkeys, including one soul who found that the gate he was standing at would not open no matter how hard he bellowed and brayed and all the other donkeys were getting tidbits – it just wasn’t fair!   Some children were sent to bring him around to the open gate!!

Having met some of the ILPH trained farriers when they came to assist me in Soweto on Sea, I was approached by one who asked for assistance with what turned out to require a ‘wooden indian’ treatment.   Now, luckily for me, Robbie Kay who so often comes to my aid with equines with ‘funny feet’, I knew what to do (technically only – I do not profess to be a farrier!), but we were able to sort out a donkey whose toes had got so long that it could not be used and the owner had ‘chopped’ a bit off, leaving us with some squaring up to do. 

PS – Wooden Indian is when you look at a hoof that is all ‘wrong’ and ‘see’ what it should look like and cut and rasp accordingly to get the ‘right’ hoof – Robbie is very good at this and has helped a number of horses to be able to walk ‘proper’, i.e. not on their heels which completely changes their conformation!

And, yes, I will return once a month to their clinics as requested.

FYI – Annerie also appeared on SABC2’s 50/50 this month with her Donkey Defenders.  Sheep farmers find that donkeys are great protectors of their herds.  This means that I also get the requests for sheepdonks, and where an owner decides to call it a day, or feels that one of his animals should ‘retire’, these donkeys go out to pastures new and do a great job.


My concerned donkey owner who was so sick and who asked that we take his donkeys away until such time as he was well enough to look after them himself, was presented with a photograph of his donkeys that I took when they were eating breakfast at their temporary home.  The entire family was so excited to see the picture and the man (still bedridden) himself, had tears in his eyes to see that they were well.  Well worth the R2.50 it cost to print the photograph!

Unfortunately, the one donkey ma has got an attitude when there is feed around, but with more than one of us working with her to settle her, I believe we are winning! I don’t have to scarper to the fence quite so quickly anymore!


Another owner had two of his young donkeys removed without permission from him by the ‘naughty boys’ – for an old man he gave a very impassioned and insistent plea for assistance!    When I saw the damage, I started to cry with anger and pain.

What happens is this:  If you have a two wheel cart and want to take a car chassis to the scrap metal merchant, you move the car forward onto the donkeys back so that the cart is more ‘balanced’!!    This leads to extreme damage to the entire hindquarter of the donkey.

The two youngsters were loaded posthaste into the box and taken to the vet.  Other than twice a day nursing, we were unable to ‘do’ anything else except treat for pain and possible infection.

A wonderful friend who caught me on the wrong foot and wanted to know why I was glum and ‘stewing’, promptly bought me a large supply of my favourite ointment, Dermovet.  Thank YOU! 

I am happy to tell you that their croups are repairing quite rapidly and in fact the ‘boys’ are happy to stand now without being tethered or held when we need to work on their backs.

The other thing is:  The SAPS and NMMM Traffic Department were sent pictures of the damage with the urgent request that if patrolling members see this kind of cruelty taking place, they call me immediately – I just need someone official to take note and to also keep me tied up in case I do something or someone a damage!


Then we had Daisy.  Daisy was colicking so her owner requested assistance.  She was treated as normal, but did not do all the things we have come to expect – she never evacuated anything substantial and just got bigger and bigger and bigger, much to our dismay and her discomfort.  The vet came more than once to do a rectal but was unable to move the offending object – until about the third day, when with three of us working together we managed to get a good grip on what appeared to be string and gently pulled and pulled and pulled until out it popped like a champagne cork!!

In a period of 12 hours, Daisy returned to a more normal size, started eating and walking around and doing the ‘right stuff’.

On dissolving the ‘cork’, I found pieces of plastic bags, string, fishing gut, two pieces of hard upholstery material, and special picture hanging thread amongst other detritus!


Aubrey’s three month old donkey foal, already an orphan, was found with severe face wounds after being attacked by dogs.  He is responding to our tender ministrations and being kept apart from boisterous Smokey for the moment and being kept in a pen with a good bed of shavings, clean water, fresh grass and leafy Lucerne with a handful of hard feed every day.  We will give him a bit more time before we give him a name!

Well, aside from all the above, we have had stray horses, lame donkeys and donkeys coming to spend time with us at the request of their owners for various reasons, preggie mares waiting to foal down, multitudinous donations of tack and Lucerne and grass and we are also currently working on our AWAD 09 (Animal Wellness Awareness Day) in conjunction with the Animal Welfare Society due to be held in May – watch this space for your programme!



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