Jun 4, 2008
A recent WSPA grant is helping the Gambian Horse and Donkey Trust (GHDT) provide college-level training to combat the lack of local animal welfare knowledge and education that results in suffering for hardworking equines.
The GHDT estimates there are now nearly 70,000 badly treated donkeys and horses in The Gambia. Without education and resources for owners, the animals suffer from a number of painful ailments.
Malnutrition caused by a lack of suitable food and wounds caused by poor and makeshift harnesses are the main welfare issues for Gambia's working horses and donkeys.
Heather Armstrong, founder of the Trust, told us it would be wrong to assume owners don't care about their animals: “Poverty and inadequate availability of vet care facilities means it is very difficult for Gambian people to afford or get vet treatment; sometimes owners will walk more than ten kilometers to get to our clinic.”
GHDT staff know that with more knowledge and information many of the distressing cases they treat could be avoided and currently run a school-based education program about the need for proper care for horses and donkeys.
WSPA's grant has enabled the GHDT to take their education work further and start an equine welfare training scheme for 14 students at Gambia College's school of agriculture.
They will study Animal Health and Production - with an equine specialization - taught by experts from organizations including the UK's Liverpool University and the World Association for Transport Animal Welfare and Studies.
After graduation, the new specialists will work in Gambian communities as part of a partnership involving the Gambia College and the ministry of livestock development.
Heather Armstrong is confident of the benefits that the training course and its planned outcome – improved care and treatment for thousands of horses and donkeys – will bring: “Training Gambians at this level in horse and donkey care and welfare has been our dream but we never have done it without WSPA's help.”
The Gambia College Principal Dr Badou AB Senghore agrees:
“There have never been training services for the care and proper management of donkeys in The Gambia before. This is a big achievement and we thank every one who made it possible.”