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The Big ASS Trek: Relocating 400 Rescued Animals for a Brighter Future

South Africa – In an unwavering pursuit of a world where donkeys and horses are free from suffering and their vital contributions to humanity are fully recognized, The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary is embarking on a remarkable journey, “The Big ASS Trek,” to relocate 440 rescued animals from Plettenberg Bay to Prince Albert in the Greater Karoo.

The Donkey Slaughter Crisis

Over the past six years, Chinese traders have been buying millions of donkey hides from developing countries, leading to the brutal slaughter of these noble creatures and a significant threat to donkey populations worldwide. The Donkey Sanctuary, an international equine welfare charity based in Sidmouth, U.K., has reported that without immediate intervention, the global donkey population could plummet by half within the next five years.

In Africa, the situation is exacerbated by the surge in donkey theft, brutal bush-slaughters, and skinning, driven by the rising demand for donkey skins in China. This issue remains a silent pandemic and a form of animal cruelty that has yet to receive the attention it deserves. In this editorial feature, we shed light on the broader context of atrocities against animals and the urgent need for collective consciousness to shift toward Animism.

Embracing Animism

Animism is a relational worldview in which all beings, including humans, animals, plants, lands, and waters, are interconnected within the web of existence. In this perspective, humans do not hold a superior status but rather occupy a relational role alongside other living beings. Animism draws its roots from the Latin word “anima,” signifying breath, spirit, and life, highlighting the interconnectedness that sustains all life in the universe.

The RESCUE – The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary

In 2017, Jonno Sherwin, a devoted animist in South Africa, intervened to rescue over 500 emaciated, maimed, and knife-branded donkeys, along with approximately 150 horses, destined for slaughter at an auction in Hartswater, Northern Cape province. Crowdfunding efforts enabled the rescue of 236 donkeys, and widespread public support extended the salvation to 36 emaciated horses facing a similar fate.

With dedicated re-homing initiatives and the help of compassionate individuals, Jonno and the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary has successfully re-homed over 200 donkeys to loving retirement homes. Currently, their permanent herd stands at 130 donkeys, including a special care unit for 30 of them.

In The Trenches for Results

In August 2021, The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary collaborated with animal welfare partners to force the closure of Africa’s largest donkey slaughterhouse in Northern Tanzania and secure a government ban on the trade. The organization’s mission extends beyond rescuing donkeys, aiming to strengthen the mutually beneficial relationship between donkeys and humans through outreach programs and education on donkey welfare.

The Great ASS Trek – Relocating the Masses

The current sanctuary in The Craggs, Plettenberg Bay, is facing eviction due to development plans. Fortunately, The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary has found a new sanctuary in the Karoo mountains of Prince Albert, where they are purchasing the land to ensure a secure future for the rescued animals. With the monumental relocation now just days away, the organization faces the formidable challenge of moving 400 animals, disassembled shelters, equipment, and staff across 260 kilometers of challenging terrain.

The Karoo Donkey Santuary  is working tirelessly to orchestrate this ambitious endeavor, with equine floats from Mark’s Horse Transport, a container for equipment, and a team of volunteers dedicated to ensuring the safety and well-being of the animals during the journey.

Expressing Gratitude and Seeking Support

The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary extends heartfelt thanks to all individuals and organizations, especially the Olsen Animal Trust based in the UK, for their generous support in this crucial relocation effort. The journey ahead is challenging, but the commitment to the welfare of these animals remains unwavering.

For those who wish to contribute to this noble cause, whether through volunteering or donations, your support is more critical now than ever.