391km’s outside of Cape Town, in the dusty Karoo town of Prince Albert, nestled in the shadows of the Swartberg Mountains is a place of sanctuary, care and love; the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary.
The sanctuary was established a few years ago by Jono Sherwin, an entrepreneur, business owner and animal lover. It was never his intention to open a sanctuary and the piece of heaven that he and his partner had purchased on the outskirts of the town was a place to unwind and get away from the bustle of city life. But life had other things in play for Jono and Johan. A mega herd of donkeys and some horses were bound for the slaughter house and Jono received a tip off on the pending auction and slaughter.
Its not that animals are not slaughtered on a regular basis, but there are no protocols or legislation in place on the slaughter of donkeys and horses. They are treated so inhumanely and their deaths are torturous. Jono went onto Facebook and pleaded with animal lovers across the country to urgently help him raise funds so that he could buy as many at the auction as possible. It was chaos. The screams of terrified animals filled the air. There were tiny baby donkey’s frantically crying for their mothers and mothers frantically searching for their babies. It’s a sight and sound that Jono will never forget.
Wind the clock forward and the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary is now officially the largest donkey sanctuary in Africa and has been relying on the generosity and care of animal lovers across the country. They have full NGO status and comply fastidiously to every possible regulation and stringent financial management system in place, but there is not always enough money to keep providing the animals with the medical care and rehabilitation that is needed and Jono continuously has to ask for funds from the public or in many cases dip into his own pocket to keep all the mouths fed.
The intention is never to keep all the rescued animals there. They want them healthy and cared for and then either fostered or adopted into loving homes to spend their remaining years in peace. Recently the team were able to erect the pole structures to keep the donkeys and horses warm and dry at night (did you know that donkeys are not waterproof and their fur gets soaked, leaving them exposed to the cold just like us).
An additional R85 000 needs to be raised (over and above the monthly sum of approximately R250 000 for operational and feed costs) to purchase and install the roof sheeting to provide respite from the cold for these precious animals.
The plan is never to keep donkeys forever. They are rehabilitated, medically taken care of and showered with so much love and just kept safe from awful humans who would skin them alive just for their skins. The trade in donkey skins is feed by the continued need of Asian markets for the gelatin substance found in their skins to produce an anti-ageing serum, commonly known as Eiao (Donkey-hide gelatin or ass-hide glue is gelatin obtained from the skin of the donkey by soaking and stewing It and then is used as an ingredient in the traditional medicine of China – said to help with ageing). Seriously; by now we should have realized that there is NOTHING that prevents ageing!
Everybody can help change a life. If you can’t adopt – foster. If you can’t foster – sponsor. If you can’t sponsor – donate, or transport an animal to safety. If you can’t donate – educate, network, and share this post. There is a special place in heaven for people like Jono and his team. If anyone is interested in adopting, supporting or finding out more, please visit the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary website at http://karoodonkeysanctuary.org.za. A little love goes an long way.