Botswana

Okavango

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See that donkey at night!

See that donkey at night!

See that donkey at night!

An innovative project using reflective ear tags will reduce the hazard of donkeys on the roads at night.

Maun Animal Welfare Society has launched a pilot project to attach reflective ear tags to donkeys in the district. Donkeys roaming on the roads at night create a dangerous situation for both beast and vehicle.

Funded by SPANA, a UK-based international working-animal charity, the pilot project will issue tags to 500 donkeys to reduce collisions. Many of Maun’s livestock animals are killed or seriously injured in road accidents, which also cause considerable damage to vehicles and great risk to their occupants. Donkeys are particularly vulnerable because their eyes do not reflect car headlights, meaning that the drivers are unable to see a donkey on the road in time to take avoiding action.

The heavy-duty ear tag used for the project renders both sides of the ear reflective to oncoming car headlights, ensuring the donkey should be visible whether it is facing towards, away from or side-on to traffic.

“In this region the donkey to human ratio is a staggering 1:2,” said MAWS chairlady Ally Lamb. “We are delighted to have received funding from SPANA for this pilot project. We have never had the necessary equipment or funding to undertake large animal welfare work; until now we have been limited to humanely euthanising donkeys that have been injured in traffic accidents.
“Our objective is to prevent these accidents, saving the lives of the occupants of the vehicles as well as the donkeys, simply by making them more visible at night.

“The reaction to the project has been phenomenal, and the entire community has warmly welcomed the idea. The local council and the veterinary department are also very supportive and we are hoping this could be the first step toward making reflective tags a legal requirement for freely-roaming livestock,” said Lamb.

The charity has also taken the opportunity to provide some much-needed animal welfare education to the village communities. A Setswana-language education pack has been given to each owner, while MAWS’ team leader Lazarus Setlhare has demonstrated the importance of hoof care and humane hobbling techniques. Each donkey has also been given a general health assessment and treatment has been provided where necessary. Finally, the team has captured vital details about each animal to provide data to support further research and schemes of this nature.

With an additional 24,500 donkeys in Maun that still require tagging, MAWS is hoping to continue the project over the coming months. Maun residents or potential sponsors who are interested in purchasing the tags for their own livestock or for the project should contact the Society.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 11, Dec 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Okavango