I have to come right out and say it. I am so frustrated with the world and its attitude towards nature at the moment. Why are we living like this planet is replaceable? Are there plans for us to move to another planet, where the climate and access to water is ideal for human habitation that I don’t know about? I know I’m preaching to the converted here and this may seems like an odd intro to a post about a donkey sanctuary, but it links to how we care about the creatures we live alongside and speaks to a bigger issue.
“Canned hunting is okay ”,“ come and see our animals in captivity (aka petting zoos)”, “pet this dangerous animal and call it a wildlife experience”. What are we doing? I have to admit that I was a little dubious about our “farm animal experience” at Petervale Farm. The owner seemed to have good intentions and he “rescued” the animals from worse situations, but I hope he was checking in with some experts in the field to ensure that the animals he cares for are eating the right food and have enough space to live in.
Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary
I am overwhelmed just thinking about the extent of the problem and I actually don’t know where to start this post. Our visit to the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary just outside McGregor made me so heart sore for the way we treat our animals. Often we don’t realize how much we are hurting them and it can be easily corrected with education and expert intervention but there are cases where people who really should know better.
People who turn animals into a business where they can make a profit, without any consideration for these gentle souls, should be made to suffer the same punishment. (I know this isn’t something that can be easily fixed and there are many, many factors that need to be considered. Hence the reason I stated up front that I am overwhelmed by what we are doing to our planet.)
Contrary to popular belief, donkeys are not stupid. They are gentle, hard working and willing to work no matter how difficult the situation, even to the point of pain. They are surprisingly social and so good with people. After just a few minutes with them, I felt welcomed by them and I found the whole experience to be very therapeutic. The first rule at this Donkey Sanctuary is, “Don’t impose your will on them”. Basically it meant that you should acknowledge that the donkeys are allowing you into their environment and you should let them decide how they want to engage with you. If they walked away, don’t follow. If they lie down, leave them alone. Let them come to you and show you what they wanted. They are playful and smart enough to learn how to open gates. There is a hierarchy in place, similar to that of elephants, and the month before the Alpha male died, he “handed over the reins” to the next donkey in line.
Sound unbelievable? Well, this is what I saw and heard at Eseltjiesrus yesterday. I found my eyes filling with tears when I heard what kind of situations these donkeys were rescued out of. One donkey’s hooves were so overgrown when he was found, he had started walking differently to compensate, resulting in hip dysplasia because of the unnatural position of his feet. It’s cheaper to get another donkey than have a farrier regularly groom the hooves of the donkey you currently have.
Another 6 donkeys were being fattened up to be fed to lions in a game reserve and will now always suffer the health problems of the overweight (like heart and lung problems and arthritis).
Its places like these that we should be spending our money on and supporting with regular donations. These people work with the animals because they love them. They can only do the work they do through generous donors but the impact they make can be felt throughout the country. People need to be educated about animals and there are so many organizations whose hard work and dedication go unnoticed.
If you can’t donate, spread the word. If you see a donkey that is being mistreated or is clearly in bad health, call the Sanctuary on (023) 625 1593. They have a network throughout South Africa who can get to the animal and assess the situation. Eseltjierus Donkey Sanctuary can even be chosen as a beneficiary on your Woolworths MyPlanet card. Alternatively, click on this PayFast link and donate whatever you can. Every little bit helps.
I encourage you to visit the Donkey Sanctuary and experience these amazing animals for yourself. It was a very different animal experience to what I had experienced before. It wasn’t about my enjoyment; it was a life changing opportunity to learn from these creatures and have my heart changed and my mind opened.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. We were given the opportunity to visit the Donkey Sanctuary as part of our #DiscoverMcGregor media trip but this stop was not sponsored and we paid our own way. Follow TazzDiscovers on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures and reviews of places we visited.