‘O, die donkie is ’n wonderlike ding’

The team: Skippy, Leeroy, Lingie, Belinda, Mario, Janneman and Basie and Mother Theresa (the donkey) in the foreground.

Nestled at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains, just two kilometres outside of Prince Albert, is a beautiful place of refuge and safety.

This place of hope and healing, described as “magical and heaven- touched”, is the Karoo Donkey Sanctuary (KDS).

Capetonians Jonno Sherwin and Dr Johan Hugo bought the 18-hectare farm, with the idea of having just a few animals roaming in the fields.

But before long, they had close to 40 animals, and in 2017, Jonno was alerted to a donkey auction taking place in Hartswater up in the Northern Cape.

When he arrived at the auction the conditions were heart-breaking and sobering. Skeletal, malnutritioned donkeys and horses were packed in pens, and babies were screaming, separated from their mothers.

Jonno expected to save 40 donkeys, but he left the auction with 300 donkeys and horses. Following the historic rescue of 236 donkeys and 30 horses, all destined for slaughter, KDS is the largest donkey rescue centre and sanctuary on the continent of Africa.

The “megaherd” are out in the dry veld during the day, and the large farm is theirs to explore and enjoy. At evening time, they return to the safety of their paddocks and a good meal, and a lot of love from the carers, rehabilitation manager Belinda, as well as Jonno and Johan.

The sanctuary remains home and a safe haven to rescued donkeys who continue to need love and healing, and while KDS has a few hundred rescued resident donkeys and horses, their resources are continually stretched.

Jonno works in Cape Town, and funds close to 60% of the running costs for the sanctuary, but the devastating drought in Prince Albert and surrounds is placing pressure on the water supply, the feed, vet bills and running costs for a dedicated team, remain high.

In September, Jonno announced the dire need for monthly funding or face imminent closure. The outpouring of sadness from hundreds of individuals is testimony to the huge impact the sanctuary is making. But the battle rages on for funding from corporates, as well as individuals.

Karoo Donkey Sanctuary is a registered animal welfare NPO.

To support them, email love@karoodonkeysanctuary.org.za, or call Jonno at 082 900 6103.