Sid the Donkey

Sometimes we see things on our wanderings that slap us in the face and say…”do something about this”… and so it was last week I was in the local souk waiting for someone and spotted a small donkey alone, untethered and not looking too good. I cautiously watched him trying not to draw attention to myself… a bit difficult as there weren´t many shoppers and stall holders were unoccupied… anyway, he was obviously having some problems walking and his legs showed signs of arthritis. So I asked one or two people and was told… ah he is fine… not convinced I took a few photos as he laid down to rest and sent them to Susan who runs the amazing Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Refuge in Oumnass on the Amizmiz route around 20 km from Marrakech.

I continued to find out about Sid over the next couple of days and learnt that he had been abandoned along with a dog around 6 years ago when he was no longer working usefully, was replaced by a fitter animal and has been wandering the souk since. The dog is obviously suffering from a case of mange, but seemed happy enough with all his canine friends. I spoke to some people I knew and asked them to make sure the locals in the souk knew what was going to happen and actually they were happy to know the donkey was going to a wonderful place.

In this region of the High Atlas Mountains, donkeys are used by farmers to work the land, carry loads and humans, mules are used by the mountain trek teams to carry gear and provisions on treks and are used for tourists to ride as well as doing farm work.

All over Morocco, these animals are hard workers, some are not so well taken care of even though owners need them to help with income, they can´t afford to be without them, so sometimes they work till they are too sick to go on. Many people do take good care and SPANA does great work in the area educating and providing services for the animals.

I took a few more photos and made a plan with Susan to have him taken to Jarjeer where he would get proper medical attention, a shelter, food, water, love and care along with all the other mules and donkeys that have found and made friends up there. The work they do is trojan, and rely solely on donations to run the centre.

You can adopt an animal and pay for its food and care, or just send a regular or singular donation.

So this morning Susan called me to say Mohammed would be arriving with a van to take Sid. I walked briskly down the hill to the souk.. some 3 or 4 km… and waited… with a few mixed emotions. Mohammed wanted to take the dog but he disappeared and was found hanging out with his friends; the decision was made to leave him, but that they would come back with treatments and maybe a vet to take care of some of the ailments.

Although I was anxious about sticking my nose in and annoying the locals, I am really happy for the outcome. All animals deserve to be in a place where they can thrive, be contented and cared for, be it in a herd, in the wild or in a place of refuge. Please do follow the links to learn more about the work they do at Jarjeer, go and visit the sanctuary, share with your friends and family… and please donate to this worthwhile centre.

As a trekking company, we are responsible for making sure all the mules we use are well cared for and that their loads are not too heavy. When you come on a trek, be mindful of the weight of your gear and try to limit it to the essentials in a soft pack or bag.

Hiking in Morocco
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