Another working animal I’d never come across before. These are magnificent Indian buffaloes. The cows are milked and the males used to pull carts and farm implements. Fantastic animals – and actually far more common and popular than equines (there are only 1.2 million horses donkeys and mules in a human population of 1.2 billion !) Apparently, there are over ten million buffaloes – and thankfully, most seemed in good condition. Of course Hindus revere cattle – I wish people in Africa revered donkeys.
Friday, 10 December 2010
Thursday, 18 November 2010
This is my friend Bounkita - named after the donkey character in one of the children's reading books we use here.
He was also an orphan foal, so all in all, in a country like Morocco, he's a pretty lucky chap.
He earns his living as well, by being nice and gentle with all the kids who visit the SPANA refuge here in Rabat as part of the education proramme - 2300 children this year alone.
He's pretty important too. In the Arab/Moroccan culture here, everyone believes donkeys are stupid, lazy and ridiculous animals - so Bounkita gives them their first experience of a real live donkey. They just love him - and he enjoys showing them that all those stupid misconceptions are wrong.
Have you ever seen a donkey laugh?
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Kirsty Brzeczek here – SPANA’s Fundraising and Supporter Care Officer. I recently returned from the Morocco Supporters’ Tour and wanted to share with you the tale of one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met!
The story starts with newly qualified Vet, Patrick Sells, who not only volunteered with SPANA in Morocco but also raised almost £5,000 by journeying the whole way there on his motorbike! On his way to the Midelt refuge, situated between the Middle and High Atlas Mountains, he spotted a tiny puppy who had been abandoned. Dogs aren’t well liked in Morocco as they are thought to carry infectious diseases like rabies so they’re often chased away with rocks and stones. Patrick was determined that life would be different for little “Diana” though, who he tucked into his jacket and took with him to the SPANA refuge. He taught the SPANA technicians there how to train her properly and what a wonderful companion she could make. Almost three years later and it’s wonderful to see the relationship that’s developed between dog and owner and Diana has made an invaluable addition to the busy education programme there.
Thursday, 28 October 2010
This is education in Mali. Eighty children in this classroom - no resources, perhaps only four or five textbooks to go round the whole class.
No wonder they love the SPANA education proramme - they each get a book to keep and take home with them.
(Part of our cunning plan - their brothers and sisters get to read it as well - maybe even their parents).
But everyone seems to think it's great, particularly the Ministry of Education. And of course the main point of it for us is that it introduces the truly revolutionary concept that animals are sentient creatures. We even made a film of it - in Bambara - bound to be a big hit next year in Cannes.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
This is a bactrian camel - two humped, and hairier than the one humped dromedary of Africa and the Middle East because Asian deserts are so bitterly cold for most of the year.
There are still a very few wild ones around the edge of the Gobi dessert.
These are the camels that carried the trade along the Silk Road for thousands of years. Marco Polo used them.
As they headed west they met up with the one-humped variety in Jordan and Syria where they were often cross-bred. And yes, you've guessed it - the results did have one-and-a-half humps!
They're so tough they rarely need help -but do treat a few for worms or ticks, helping these fantastic animals to stay healthy.