Three donkeys standing in field in Botswana
Three donkeys standing in field in Botswana

Helping working animals in Botswana

SPANA Botswana was officially launched in November 2015. Our two-person team is based in Greater Maun, in the north of the country.

Botswana man and his donkeys 1000

BOTSWANA AT A GLANCE

  • Population: Approximately 2.2 million
  • Area: 581,730 sq km
  • Location: Southern Africa, bordering Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa
  • Capital City: Gaborone
  • Estimated number of working equines and camels: 179,000

Spana Operations

Greater Maun is a vast area, where thousands of donkeys are used for arduous work like ploughing and pulling heavy carts. Sadly, there is a widespread lack of concern for their welfare.

The few local vets in the region are also unaffordable and often lack the necessary equine expertise the animals need.

Our team runs a mobile veterinary clinic three times a week, clocking up hundreds of kilometres to bring relief to donkeys in remote rural villages.

Our two-person veterinary team treats working animals in Maun and the surrounding countryside, where donkeys, mules and horses and widely used for transportation.

In 2018 we intervened to help over 600 donkeys that were being held in terrible conditions at a local abattoir serving the donkey skins trade. As a result, SPANA was invited to work with the government on updating national animal welfare legislation.

Veterinary Care

In 2018, we provided treatments to 646 of the country’s working animals through our mobile clinic.

Education

SPANA is a relatively recent arrival in Botswana and has so far focused on veterinary care – with 44 professionals trained and 22 owners receiving informal advice in 2018. But the signing of an agreement with the Ministry of Education means we are now hard at work planning a new programme to reach Botswana’s children with our humane education work too.

Donkey being fed by its owners in Botswana

ABOUT BOTSWANA

With a population of a little over two million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Almost three quarters of the country is covered by the arid Kalahari desert and droughts are a common problem in the country. The population is made up of a variety of ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Tswana. For Botswanan farmers, working animals such as donkeys, horses and cows are integral to their survival. In the northern town of Maun alone, there are more than 24,000 donkeys which due to their abundance, tend to be considered ‘low status’ animals. Donkeys, mules, and horses are used for transportation while over 50 per cent of households depend on cattle as their largest source of rural income.

Woman checking donkey with stethescope

MEET THE COUNTRY DIRECTOR

Pippa Young is our Country Director in Botswana. She has been working on animal welfare projects for the past 20 years and joined SPANA in 2015 to launch our work in Botswana.

What is it like working for SPANA in Botswana? 

No two days are the same. We go out for four to five days to visit cattle posts and villages to treat sick and injured donkeys and horses. Our work can range from replacing bits and hobbles made of wire to treating wounds made by leopard or crocodile attacks. Working in this country is incredible. Botswana is one of the last Eden’s in the world: I love its space and freedom!

What is the best part of your job?

I love the daily challenges and variety that comes with working with animals, which I have now done professionally for over 20 years. It always keeps you on your toes, sometimes quite literally!

What are the biggest challenges facing working animals in Botswana?

The biggest problems for working animals in Botswana are poor treatment due to lack of education and the lack of equipment. The average person in the region where we work lives on less than one dollar a day, and there are often six people living in a single mud hut without water or electricity. People just don’t have the resources to look after all of their animals.

How important are working animals in Botswana?

Working animals are incredibly important to life in Botswana. Donkeys, especially, are very resilient and are used for transport and for carrying water in rural areas. Farmers also rely on horses for herding their cattle and consider them very valuable.

What has been your most memorable experience while working for SPANA? 

The most memorable case for me was when I helped Little Ray of Sunshine, or ‘Ray’ for short. Ray was attacked by a leopard and had huge bite and claw wounds all over his body which had become infected. He’s happily back on his feet now and even lets us groom and pet him.

What are your main goals for helping working animals in Botswana?

I want to make as many people as possible aware of SPANA’s work in Botswana. It’s important that they understand that we’re here to help.

When reporting an animal, please make note of the following:

  • Brand letters, location on body and formation e.g. in a square from left to right
  • Sex of animal
  • Age: eg adult/youngster/baby.

 

Important

All emergencies of injured animals must be reported by phone to the government vets and the police department. It is a difficult process to organise the treatment of an injured cow, horse, donkey, or goat if the owners cannot be located, so please be patient. You can speed up this process by notifying the Government Vet Department and Police Department.

Other countries we work in

Donkeys pulling cart on rubbish dump

Helping working animals in Mali

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Mali.

Donkey harnessed to cart

Helping working animals in Mauritania

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Mauritania.

Donkey carrying hay

Helping working animals in Tunisia

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Tunisia.

Donkeys pulling cart on rubbish dump

Helping working animals in Mali

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Mali.

Donkey harnessed to cart

Helping working animals in Mauritania

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Mauritania.

Donkey carrying hay

Helping working animals in Tunisia

Find out more about how SPANA helps working animals in Tunisia.

Donate to SPANA to help the world’s working animals