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May 2007

Dear Interested and Affected Parties,
I often wonder what I am going to put in a Newsletter at the end of the month, but going through the diary makes interesting reading.

Unit Staff
After a year of mucking out, my Joburg boss telling me to, and two false starts, I have found Alfred.  Or should I say, one of the Carters found him for me.  It has been difficult to be clean and tidy when going to see client/patients.  The donkeys don't care much, but I do.  So I took to mucking out before cleaning up and putting on ordentlike working clothes.   Alfred is proving to be a great help, is very empathetic to the animals that we deal with on a daily basis, and being a gardener, is making a good bed!  The main thing he arrives for work and that makes me happy!  So that makes two of us!

Blood Everywhere!
I took a call from a concerned citizen that had me running - a donkey covered in blood seen pulling a cart and it had obviously fallen and seriously damaged itself.  As I was close by, it was relatively easy to find but I wondered what I would find.  On reaching the cart I found that the donkey had rolled in wet red gravel and certainly looked like a serious injury case.  Whew!  The next big problem was not nice at all though.
On Friday the 11th May, radio traffic reports indicated a dead donkey on the Schoenies Road.  On getting to the scene, I found not one, but two, dead foals.   One will never know just what happened, but the owners were absolutely devastated as was I.  The carcasses were removed and the mommies and aunties chased off the road.
This month I also had a donkey that had been electrocuted which was not apparent when first being brought to the scene by the owner, until I touched the wire fence!  The matter has been reported to the NMMM Electricity Department and hopefully the problem will be solved before anyone or anything else has a shocking experience!
It is still sad that equines are dying because of plastic ingestion when it is so easy to sort out.  A horse and a donkey were returned to their owners this month having been treated by a Vet and spending a little time at the stables.  But I had a report of a donkey that died and the owner has been severely reprimanded by his peers.

Horse Calls
Although the donkey owners believe I am employed solely for them, from time to time Investigations are required for horses.  These are found all over and sometimes in a sad state.  The owners start off very belligerent that someone would report them, but calm down when they realise that help is there for the taking.  Most times it is bad advice given by non-professionals, sometimes just plain ignorance, but so far nothing that has not been solvable.  The main problem as any pukkah horse owner knows is, it is easy to let a horse loose weight, but another story altogether to 'fill it up'. Educate, don't confiscate.
Then we have the 'you've bought the property and you get the horses' scenario.  So you have a 'new' owner who suddenly has to shoulder the responsibility for animals that he knows nothing about.  Just something to untangle.  

Car Oil
The standard procedure for the treatment of wounds in the townships until now has been the liberal application of motor car oil.  I understand why because it stops the bleeding very quickly but the problem is that it is so difficult to get off and completely hides the problem.  So, it came as a pleasant surprise to be presented with a donkey that had sustained a stab wound to its hindquarter and that the owner had washed, cut the long hair away, and then shaved the wound which just required a touch of purple spray.  It just proves that they are listening to reason.  I was delighted!

Wedding Bells and Refuse Collection
Not quite the same thing, but the general public have been phoning to ask for assistance with their various activities that include a bride's request to be photographed on her wedding day, on a cart, with donkeys. 

Art Expo
The Art Exhibition at the Kuhn-Boekkoei Gallery has had an ongoing effect on the ECHCU.  The Collection Tin, on being counted out, gave up the amazing figure of R708 - a new record!  We also had an interview with Die Burger which was detailed and very sympathetic to what we are trying to achieve.  Again, a big thank you to Heidi and Frans, their artists and their customers.

Horse Sickness Vaccinations
It has been a long haul trying to encourage the vaccination of equines in the townships, principally due to misunderstanding, disinformation and the 'it won't happen to me' attitude - until somebody else's donkey dies - then there is an absolute clamour for their donkeys and horses to be done now!  It makes planning difficult but luckily for me, I have a solid supplier.  And then, down came the rain, which put the kaibosch on any plans at all.  But we are catching up with the program again!

Halls of Academe
I was privileged to address ROAR, which is the Rhodes University Animal Rights Group in Grahamstown on the 15th.  It was a well attended event and the students, some of whom are riders, were most interested in the other side of the donkey cart story and are looking at ways to assist Annerie and the carters in the Grahamstown community.  Certainly a most enjoyable evening and a good trip home.  They are making a donation too!

Rotoract Fund Raising Initiative
The Rotoract ladies, urged on by Lisa, who asked how they could help.  Once they knew what they could do, they set out to raise funds and did the buying with help from Michael at PE Saddlery - a bucket, a dandy brush, a hoofpick, a bottle of Glycerine, a tub of Vaseline in an Ice Cream tub.   Well done, ladies!   Because of this initiative, I am today emailing them the following which is self-explanatory:
Well, I still have three kits to give out, but what an impression they have made!!   Most of the time, there is just stunned silence - they simply cannot believe what they are being given by people who care.  And then they break out in shy smiles.  For many of them, the hoofpick alone is a highly prized article, one that many white folk take completely for granted and lose/misplace with regular monotony.
With the generous donations of used brushes and curry combs from the PE riding community over the months to add to the buckets, it has made a real impact in their lives and that of their donkeys.  I actually caught Shadrack in the act the other day, brushing his donkeys near his shack before heading into Walmer for a day's work - this in itself is a good sign.
Herewith a list of carters who have benefitted from your group activity and who all say a heartfelt 'Thank you' for your hard work.  I am also attaching a picture of Mr Bonani and his horses beaming with his new acquisition.
Isaac Lukas in Govan Mbeki township, Swartlam in Soweto on Sea, Alfred Mengu in Kwazakhele, David Uganda in Noxolo,
Jorsman in Kleinskool, Jackson in Kwanobuhle, Mandla in Kwanobuhle, Peter, Marjory, Teresa, David Pegleg, Moses, and Patrick in Walmer, Radebe in Kleinskool, Mr Sitatu, Mr Bonani and Siyabonga and Jackson in Kwanobuhle.

I am sure by the time comes for the next newsletter, we will be able to tell you about the Comedy Evening and Raceday that was held during this month, but until then..
In Conclusion
Every now and again, when you least expect it, something nice happens.  Like the late afternoon going home after an Investigation, I was excited to get a glimpse of a pair of Fish Eagles sitting on the poles of a submerged fence at Lake Farm.   Or how excited Alfred gets when we spot a kudu or impala or some other game on our way to or from our duties.
Or how the donkeys trot across to the bakkie to check what is inside, or even when they recognise me and give a bray of welcome.   Definite job satisfaction!



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