Mat’land animal group seeks protection for donkeys

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BY SILISIWE MABALEKA
THE Matabeleland Animal Rescue and Equine Sanctuary (MARES) has urged donkey owners in Bulawayo to desist from letting their animals stray onto the streets as this has fuelled a rise in stocktheft.

MARES founder and director Claire Einhorn said her organisation had been in talks with Bulawayo City Council (BCC) over the issue of stray donkeys, but the local authority failed to deal with the issue.

“Allowing donkeys into town has increased donkey theft by 200%. About 80% of the donkeys have been stolen and rebranded. We need to enforce a stiffer sentence on the offenders to discourage theft of donkeys,” she said.

“We have been in negotiations with BCC now for eight months to enforce their by-laws so that no donkeys are permitted into the municipal area, including the townships. The challenge is that there is also a by-law which prohibits farming on council land, yet people are doing that. Council has said it did not have the manpower or resources to enforce the law.”

Einhorn said as a donkey sanctuary, they were often called by Bulawayo City Council and Wildlife Management Authority rangers when the animals were injured. She said in the past year, they collected over 60 axed, burnt or injured donkeys.

“Medical costs for such donkeys are also prohibitive,” she said.

Einhorn appealed for funding and fuel to go around confiscating all stray donkeys, and also appealed for amendments to the law to allow for stiffer penalties for those allowing their donkeys to stray.

She suggested that the law should impose a fine of US$100 for the release of all impounded donkeys.

BCC deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube said: “It’s difficult for us to enforce the by-laws due to a shortage of resources. This has been caused by economic hardships that result in residents failing to pay. At the moment, all council programmes are funded from revenue collected from residents.

“As council, we are in the process of recruiting rangers who will deal with that, but the problem is that the donkey owners are among the communities, and so we encourage the residents to observe the by-laws so that they can live in harmony with their neighbours.”

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