Donkeys are the major source of pack transport. They transport various commodities including firewood, charcoal, farm produce, vegetables, cactus leaves and fruits, construction materials and in farming like threshing and tillage. Donkeys transport stones for house construction particularly in rural areas. There are 568,121 donkeys in Tigray region (CSA, 2010). The region has densely populated donkeys in the country, about 25 donkeys/square km of land in some areas. On average, there is one donkey for every two household in the rural community. The donkey users can be considered as good examples for donkey owners- taking care of their donkeys. They have naturally developed a saddle for pack donkeys, which we now call it Adigudem type as we saw it first at Adigudem town. It is made of natural material, with sufficient padding and durable stuff.
How the charity started operating in Tigray Region:
Tigray project also takes a similar story as the one in Amhara region as the survey was conducted simultaneously with the Amhara Project. The results of the survey is not different from that of the Amhara; the frontline health and welfare problems being wound, parasitism, respiratory problems, hoof problems, ophthalmic as well as lack of awareness of the community (see survey report). The operation sites in Tigray are Enderta, Hintalo Wajirat, Wukuro, Adigudem, Ganta Afashum (Adigrat) and Abala districts (Shiekeit) in Afar Region. The mobile clinic is based in Mekelle. The main activities in the first period, like in the Amhara, were mainly provision of free health care.
Later it evolved to include humane education at primary schools for school children. Currently, the project does the following activities:
_ Provision of free health care to sick and abandoned donkeys while training local professionals
- Community partnership works: it includes formal workshops, discussions on specific donkey health and welfare problem for a brief time with captive audience (people who brought their donkeys for treatment) at mobile clinic sites, pack saddle development, comparing donkey in good condition and bad condition, erecting bill boards, etc.
- Working through farmers’ / handlers’ agents to impact local communities knowledge, skill and attitude towards donkeys
_ Radio show program.
_ Nurturing empathy in school children and herders
- The compound effect of the above integrated activities in the project areas is expected to improve donkey welfare status in the region.