World Vets Arusha Day 2: The Chute At the End of the Universe

This post is part of a series documenting a trip undertaken by a team of volunteers with World Vets who traveled to Arusha, Tanzania in June 2012 to provide veterinary care for the under (or should be say un-) served donkey population. For the full series of posts covering World Vets, please click here.

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For our second day in Arusha, the team learned we were off to Nando Soito. We didn’t know what Nando Soito was, if it was a village, or a market, or a town. It was kind of none of the above, actually.

We piled into our cars and headed through town, past beeping cars and buses on their way to safari. Soon the exhaust and throngs of pedestrians and bicycles marking the center of tourist heavy Arusha Town gave way to more a more rural area.

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Brick homes and scampering goats, spaced more generously than the homes in town.

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On one side of the road, a dump, sitting sullenly under the morning sun. Pigs rooted through the piles in search of edibles.

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A bit further down the road, the scenery turned more picturesque:

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Past this, we entered the plains, farmland a little more indicative of the vastness of Africa than what we had seen up to this point.

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And we drove down an endless dirt road, while people on the side of the road looked askance at us. Cars were unusual enough in this area, never mind cars full of mizungus. Livingstone stopped to ask a person a question, as we looked nervously at each other. Could this be the start of another “adventure?”

A few more minutes down the road, we pulled off to the side under the shade of a grove of trees known as a boma. “Need directions again?” we asked.

“No,” said Livingstone. “We’re here.”

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We hadn’t passed a house, not even a small mud-walled hut, in at least 10 minutes of driving. “What’s out here?” we wondered.

Livingstone gestured to the boma.

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The boma, a circular wall of trees that serves as a livestock pen, protection from elephants, or a safe gathering place. The Maasai had long used this as a place to wall in livestock, and someone at some point had figured, well, at least we know this is a good place to find animals so might as well build a chute here in case someone wants to treat them.

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So there we stood, next to a wooden chute erected under the shade of the boma in the middle of a dusty expanse of nothingness. Across the street, a cornfield. And by the chute, a small gathering of donkeys, including the occasional, treasured white punda.

Because the World Vets team had turned up once before, late last year, word had gotten out that this particular group was reliable and provided a useful service. The Maasai who populated the miles of expanse around the area would come, those who had received word, on their way to market.

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We had a few moments to ponder how to organize the day before the donkeys started to pile in. Unlike the market the previous day, the chute offered the advantage of funneling the donkeys in from the wide end into a single file line, sides exposed for easy treatment.

As we had done  the day before, the team started to sort themselves into units. Rudy and James from Donkey Sanctuary gave injections:
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Alana dewormed:

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Teri marked:

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Rachel and Kyle, of course, sprayed:

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Livingstone kept records of every donkey seen, all 260 that day:

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Toccoa wrangled from the back end, trying to keep donkeys from backing up and crushing the little ones:

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While Janet managed the front end, trying to figure out how to erect a barrier to keep the donkeys from crashing through while they were being treated.

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It took a few tries before we figured out the optimum number of donkeys to put into the chute at one time. Too many, and they would start to panic and crush each other:

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Too few, and they would start to look for alternate ways out, like through the side.

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About seven at a time, it seemed, was the perfect number. Once we figured that out, things went a lot faster.

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And we figured out how to keep them from bolting: a combination of sticks and rope in the front, and a stick in the back at the neck of the funnel to keep them from backing out.

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Some of the wounds here were deeper than what we had seen the day before. It soon became clear that it was time to do a little M*A*S*H medicine. With Alana, Toccoa, Kyle, Rachel and James running full steam on the preventive care side, Rudy, Teri, Janet and Dr. Mushi pulled a few patients aside for more involved treatment.

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Which you will get to hear all about in part 2 tomorrow.

Filed: Adventures, Be The Change, Blog, Features, Photography Tagged: , ,
  • http://www.the7msnranch.com/ the 7MSN ranch

    I’m thinkin’ you can turn this photojournalism thing into a full-time gig with World Vets.

    What strikes me from Day 2 is that despite the occasional skin wound, all these donkeys seem to look very healthy, weight-wise anyway. No fat donkeys in Africa, but no scrawny ones either.

    p.s. I love the music you’ve chosen for the videos. Takes me right there among the punda.

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      Well that means a lot, coming from such a talented photographer. Thank you. And boy, that would be a dream come true. :D

      They were, by and large, really in good shape. We were surprised too.

  • Sue W.

    Shared. This is a very worthy cause. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Dr. D

    260!! I’m so very impressed and I can’t wait to do something like this one day :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363015727 Michelle Cotton

    What would they normally do for the wounds that the donkeys had? Do they just go without any wound care at all? In which case, it would seem that the donkeys would be dying of infections. I am enjoying your photos and thank you so much for sharing this story with us.

    • http://www.pawcurious.com Dr. V

      They went without. As, for that matter, did the people.

  • Tamara

    I love it! Such good donkeys, clearly :) I agree that 260 is an impressive number. Go World Vets!!!!