A charity that helps west African farmers and their horses and donkeys has launched a desperate appeal for donations after losing both support vehicles.
A large part of its work involves holding mobile veterinary clinics throughout the central river region – an essential service for farmers and their animals that receive little or no veterinary care elsewhere.
The charity normally has two 4×4 vehicles to run these programmes, but a string of unfortunate events has put both vehicles out of service and it is extremely unlikely either will become roadworthy again in the near future. This means the charity has had to halt all its mobile clinics.
A spokesman for the charity said: “As a result of this, hundreds of horses, donkeys and mules will be unable to receive veterinary care.
“There are no veterinary surgeons in this area of The Gambia, so without the clinics the equine owners really have no one to turn to.”
He said this was an essential time of year for equine veterinary care, as the animals were coming to the end of their season of hard farming work with the crop harvests now being brought in. Their immune systems are at an all-time low and they are at greater risk of contracting the prevalent disease trypanosomiasis. This disease is easily treatable at a mobile clinic with one injection, but without treatment, is fatal.
The spokesman added: “This is a desperate plea to ask for any support towards sourcing a new 4 x 4 left-hand drive, twin cab pick-up vehicle.
“It is something that is important to assisting the lives of working equines, but also their owners who rely on their animals for their own survival.”
The trust says it is happy to source the vehicle from anywhere in Europe and it will be shipped to The Gambia.
The charity has also seen a fall in the number of visitors and donations as a result of the Ebola crisis. Although The Gambia is Ebola-free, fewer tourists have been visiting west Africa.
The charity spokesman said: “The reduction in numbers will mean we receive fewer visits from donors, and it has sadly meant our annual show has had to be cancelled for this year.
“The show is a real incentive for the farmers to take excellent care of their working animals and is something the whole local community looks forward to each year as a chance to show off their well cared for animals.
“Over recent years the competition has become increasingly stiff and there will be hundreds of disappointed farmers.”
If you are able to help, but require further details about what the charity requires, telephone Heather Armstrong on 01306 627568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To make a donation, visit www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk/donate.htm