Vets at the world’s largest donkey hospital have come up with a novel idea to help one of their donkeys cope with the bright sunshine as he recovers from temporarily losing his sight
Jonty’s special ‘bug-eyed’ mask certainly makes him stand out from the crowd at The Donkey Sanctuary’s international headquarters in Devon. The unusual eyewear helps block UV rays. Problems started for Jonty when he stood on a thorn which painfully embedded itself into his hoof. Following a simple procedure at the state-of-the-art donkey hospital the thorn was removed, but things got worse for Jonty.
Vicky Grove, a Veterinary Surgeon at The Donkey Sanctuary says, “The stress of the injury possibly triggered the recurrence of a chronic eye problem. Jonty suffered an immune-mediated inflammation of his whole eye and lost his sight.”
The veterinary team needed to protect their patient from strong sunlight, and the special mask – which gives Jonty his bug-eyed appearance – was just the ticket to block UV rays.
Vicky adds, “The mask is just like wearing sunglasses and Jonty has made some good progress, though the back of his eye is still damaged. We are monitoring his eyes with an ophthalmoscope and have tested his eyesight with an obstacle course, which he has completed so we think he is now just partially-sighted.”
Jonty will wear his mask for much of the summer and the sanctuary’s vets will monitor his progress. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that Jonty's sight keeps improving!
Jonty is currently convalescing at one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s farms, which is not open to the public. It is hoped that following respite he will be brought back to the charity’s main sanctuary in Sidmouth, which is open to members of the public. There he will join a small group including another partially-sighted male donkey called Will.
A spectacular new trail launched by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is set to showcase Scotland’s west coast as a world-class destination for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and champion conservation of the Hebrides globally important marine wildlife and environment.
The Hebridean Whale Trail, first of its kind in the UK, is a unique initiative connecting more than 30 top places offering opportunities for land-based sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises, or showcasing important whale heritage sites that reveal the history of people’s relationships with whales in these communities.
Bottlenose dolphin in Tobermory harbour
Basking sharks, seals and other wildlife may also be seen from the trail, which features 33 sites across the Hebridean archipelago and along Scotland’s west coast, from the Clyde to Cape Wrath and St Kilda. These include lighthouses at the Butt of Lewis on the Isle of Lewis, Eilean Glas on the Isle of Scalpay, the UK mainland’s most westerly point at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, beaches at Clachtoll in the Highlands and Huisinis on the Isle of Harris and harbours at Tobermory and Ullapool.
The trail ranges from easily accessible attractions such as the Hebridean Whale Trail Centre in Tobermory to remote and wild destinations such as the Oa on Islay.
“Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s best places to catch sight of whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and you may see bottlenose and common dolphins, harbour porpoise, minke whales and killer whales,” said Karl Stevens, Hebridean Whale Trail Manager. “We want people from all walks of life to visit the Hebridean Whale Trail and enjoy exploring the region’s unique nature, culture and history and be inspired to support marine conservation.”
The aims are also to boost the local economy and support communities through sustainable eco-tourism, provide educational opportunities and improve connections between coastal areas.
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director said, “Scotland’s Hebrides offer captivating views, endless beaches, ancient history, the finest fresh food and wonderful wildlife. The Hebridean Whale Trail is a clever initiative which presents visitors with an unrivalled opportunity to explore the best of Scotland’s marine wildlife and seascapes. The launch of this new trail is particularly apt as we prepare for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, a year-long programme of events and activities. It’s particularly pleasing that the trail is a conservation-based tourism product, as a key focus of the themed year will be celebrating and protecting Scotland’s beautiful natural environment.”
The trail’s website includes routes, transport options and site details. On-site interpretation at key locations will explain which species of cetaceans might be seen. Across the trail there will be many opportunities for visitors and residents to get involved in marine conservation activities, including joining volunteers to watch, identify and record marine wildlife from land or the ferries which connect the sites, as well as discovering more about Scotland’s seas from experts at a range of visitor centres.
“The trail encourages accessible, low-impact whale-watching from land, which for many is a completely new way of thinking about viewing marine wildlife. Scotland’s west coast is dotted with stunning places where you can quietly watch whales, dolphins and other wildlife going about their business from a clifftop or harbour,” said Alison Lomax, Director of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. “Ultimately we want people to experience the thrill of watching a fin breaking the surface in the distance and the challenge of identifying which type of whale they’ve seen, sharing that experience with others and learning about the threats these animals face in our seas”
While sightings of cetaceans can never be guaranteed, the Hebridean seas are exceptionally rich in wildlife. More than a quarter of the world’s whale and dolphin species have been recorded in the region including many national and international conservation priority species.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is based on the Isle of Mull and has been taking action for the conservation of cetaceans off western Scotland for over two decades.
Blue Cross Week, 7–13 October - seven days when you can join forces with pet lovers nationwide to raise vital funds for pets in need and change lives.
Take the advantage of Blue Cross Week to do something new or show off some skills. Go bungy jumping, cycle coast-to-coast or organise afternoon tea for your neighbours. Whatever you want to do, Blue Cross Week is the perfect time to do it.
Every year, The Blue Cross helps thousands of pets, whether they need a new home or veterinary care. But they can’t do it without the help of the general public, so whatever you choose to do this Blue Cross Week, you’ll be doing something magical for the animals in their care.
Click HERE for your free fundraising pack
The Donkey Sanctuary recently took in a pair of rescue donkeys, Stuart and Bob. Their hooves were grossly overgrown. When post-surgery complications led to the difficult decision to put Bob to sleep, Stuart needed help to start his life afresh.
Above: Stuart at the clinic before his hooves were trimmed Above: Stuart with trimmed hooves
The Sanctuary's welfare team are always on hand to support donkeys in need, so when the RSPCA contacted them about two donkeys they had seized on veterinary advice, the Sanctuary responded right away to help plan the best course of action. Along with Bob, Stuart’s feet had become so overgrown that his toes were curling up – rendering even a the shortest of walks a painful ordeal.
Head of Welfare, Hannah Bryer, visited the pair at the equine clinic in Staffordshire where they had been taken for treatment. “I could see right away that both donkeys needed corrective care on their hooves from an expert farrier,” said Hannah. “Their overgrown and misshapen feet were causing them pain and affected their ability to stand or walk normally.”
Above: Bob in hospital Above: Stuart and Bob in trailer
Both donkeys underwent routine assessments, treatment and, for Bob, a castration procedure that every stallion receives when coming into the Sanctuary's care. The journey of this donkey duo took a heartbreaking turn when Bob suffered post-operation complications and – despite extensive veterinary treatment – the difficult decision was taken to put him to sleep.
Donkeys form close bonds, and the impact of such a sudden loss can in turn be a life threatening event for the donkey that loses its companion. The team knew that it was vital that Stuart got all the support he needed, and for him to be relocated to another group of donkeys as soon as possible.
Chris Pile, farm manager at the Derbyshire centre, was there to transport the bereft Stuart to his new home. “It’s quite a stressful thing for a donkey to lose their mate,” he said. “We did keep a close eye on him, particularly in the first three weeks when there’s a higher risk of hyperlipaemia – a potentially fatal disease often brought on by stress – but he took it all in his stride and seems to have bounced back very well.” On arrival, Stuart spent some time in an isolated area before joining a group of playful boys where thankfully, he settled in straight away.
Although Stuart now looks like a different donkey, Chris says that such extensive neglect to his hooves will take time to overcome. “When we first met Stuart it was of course the feet that came to our attention – that was our main concern. He had adapted to that way of walking and our worry was that if we corrected lots of the hoof straight away that it might cause some pain. So, we have been correcting the shape of the hoof a little bit at a time to allow him to get used to his new feet.”
In spite of all he’s been through, Stuart is taking strides in the right direction and is undergoing training with a renewed spring in his step. Hopes are high that someday he will find a new friend to fill Bob’s shoes and maybe even join the Donkey Sanctuary's Rehoming Scheme.
Birdfair, which runs from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August in Rutland addresses some big issues of the day, including climate change and wildlife decline.
-Come along for three days of wildlife talks and events
-Shop for nature watching gear, tours and other wildlife themed treats
-Get top tips to kick start your conservation career
On Friday evening join Chris Packham, Carrie Symonds, Deborah Meaden, Hannah Stitfall, Isabella Tree, Philip Lymbery and Tony Juniper for a Question Time session looking at the current state of wildlife, chaired by Dominic Dyer. Simon King’s talk on living lighter will look at how we can change the world one step at a time.
On Saturday the UK’s biggest wildlife event also offers opportunities for visitors to discover how to take the first steps in various careers. Hear how a range of passionate conservationists got started and get expert advice to polish up your CV.
Birdfair visitors can also look forward to fun quiz sessions including Would I Fly To You and Bird Brain of Britain hosted by Stephen Moss, Iolo Williams’ talk on Life before Telly and Angie and Jonathan Scott’s Big Cat Tales. Other treats in store include Birdfair’s popular wildlife cruises on Rutland Water, Bird Photographer of the Year Awards with Chris Packham and a production of The Lion King for families. Birdfair will welcome 45 new exhibitors and caterers.
Birdfair founder and manager Tim Appleton said, "There’s really something for everyone this year. Whether you’re a Birdfair regular or a first time visitor, this is going to be a fantastic three days. And it’s worth remembering that everyone visiting is making a real difference by contributing towards wildlife conservation projects."
Each year Birdfair raises vital funds for conservation across the planet through entry ticket sales and a charity auction. This year’s event will fund raise for BirdLife International’s Conserving Cambodia's Big Five project. This project will benefit Western Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary, a forest in the Mekong basin that stretches across the border between Cambodia and Laos. The site is notable for its unusually high concentration of Critically Endangered species; five in total, including the towering Giant Ibis and White-shouldered Ibis and three declining vulture species: White-rumped, Slender-billed and Red-headed.
This globally important site is in dire need of protection to protect its habitat from threats such as unsustainable hunting and deforestation; this year’s project will help secure its future by scaling up existing work with local farmers to develop eco-friendly practices to improve fortunes of the site’s wildlife and those who live on its borders.
Birdfair is jointly promoted by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and the RSPB. The event is held at Rutland Water Nature Reserve which is cared for by Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust in partnership with Anglian Water. A spectacular wetland, it provides one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries in the UK, regularly holding in excess of 25,000 waterfowl. The Birdfair entry ticket covers all daytime events: separate tickets can be purchased for evening events and cruises. Parking is free. Tickets are available here: Birdfair
photo: Giant Ibis credit Jonathan Eames
photo: Chris Packham credit Terry Bagley .
As we approach summer, the weather is growing warmer. We can take steps to make ourselves comfortable in hot weather, but our animal friends often have to depend on us to help them. Below are some helpful tips, thanks to the RSPCA.
Nibbling on grass is natural for cats. Research has not yet shown why domestic cats are attracted to it, but it could be linked to the fact that wild cats will often eat grass after they have devoured their prey, helping them expel the indigestible parts. Another theory is that cats eat grass for some trace minerals and vitamins A and D. Whatever the reason, cats seem to love it!
At Mayhew, they grow cat grass in pots and place them in the enclosures of the adult cats and vaccinated kittens for them to munch on, which they do with gusto! Another firm favourite with many of the home's feline residents is catnip, which is also grown at Mayhew for them to enjoy. If you’ve ever seen a cat around catnip then you’ll know that they can go totally crazy for it, becoming more playful, loving and confident. The sedative effects of catnip can also really help to calm down a stressed kitty, reducing anxiety and depression.
“When cats first come to us, they can be nervous about their new surroundings, but once we offer them catnip leaves or pouches filled with Valerian (another good stress-relieving plant) even the most withdrawn cat will investigate!” Kayleigh Kilcommons Head of Cattery
Ones to watch out for
As pets look forward to exploring the flora and fauna this summer, remember that some plants should be steered well clear of. Foxgloves, daffodils (especially the bulbs), cherry laurel, rhododendrons, wisteria and chrysanthemums can be toxic if eaten. Lilies, although very beautiful, are particularly toxic to cats and can cause severe kidney damage. If you think your dog or cat has ingested a toxic plant, it is essential that you seek veterinary advice immediately.
Read here to find out which plants and herbs are best for dogs
Find out more about the MAYHEW here
The medicinal benefits of herbs and plants for humans are well known; however, you may be surprised to hear that plants can help our canine and feline friends too, from soothing skin conditions to aiding anxiety sufferers. Many of the animals at Mayhew have endured tough times before coming through the doors. Providing access to safe plants in a secure environment can offer them comfort and reduce stress levels as they are prepared for their new forever homes.
Sensory enjoyment for Mayhew's dogs
Mayhew has developed a sensory garden for the dogs in their care. This outdoor run acts as a safe haven, made up of different smells, textures and sounds. The plants in the garden provide stimulation and enrichment but each has also been specifically chosen for its healing properties and ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
Top plants for pooches
Chamomile: soothes anxiety, skin issues or stomach upsets.
Lavender: reduces anxiety.
Vervain: helps with nervous system disorders like depression.
Meadowsweet: reduces inflammation and aids digestive problems, arthritis and rheumatic conditions.
Did you know?
Dogs can suffer from hay fever just like people! Some research suggests that dogs are more likely to develop signs of hay fever if they aren’t exposed to a variety of grasses and plants in their early life.
As the weather improves, staff take the dogs into the sensory garden as much as possible, letting them potter around and enjoy games with toys – or water when it is very hot! The space is also used to work on basic training or socialisation skills and sometimes dogs will meet their potential adopters here, as it is a calming environment and the dogs feel at home. The Kennels team and volunteers are always on hand, watching over the dogs in case they have any unusual adverse reactions to the plants.
MARIA MARKEY, HEAD OF KENNELS, “It is truly amazing to observe the change in behaviour from when a dog enters the garden to how they are when they leave. ”
Scenting and exploring
Some dogs that come to Mayhew struggle to cope initially with a kennel environment, but staff find that even the most withdrawn and overwhelmed dogs will investigate the plants in the sensory garden. For example, dogs that are particularly highly strung or have hormonal imbalances often gravitate towards clary sage. While engaged in scenting and exploring, they stop focusing on any anxieties or tensions they may have and are able to begin to relax. The staff also use essential oil remedies in the kennels, to soothe and calm the residents.
Click here to read more about the Mayhew and how you can help
And of course, not only dogs appreciate herbs and plants, Mayhew's cats do too..... read about them here
Stories from the Frontline of Elephant Conservation
As a conservation driven organisation, African Bush Camps promote and influence African travel on a global scale while operating with an environmentally sustainable footprint. Employing an ethos that strives to empower local communities in the areas in which they operate, a strong focus on conservation is at the heart of their operation. How Many Elephants has a simple mission. Stop the poaching of African elephants. Simple but critical. Every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory. That is 35,000 of these magnificent, gentle, intelligent animals a year.
Headline Speaker: Holly Budge Adventurer | Conservationist | Designer
Holly will share her adventurous fundraising tales from her journey to Everest to immersing herself with the Black Mambas, an all-female front line anti-poaching team in South Africa. Holly founded 'How Many Elephants', a design-led campaign, to inspire and educate a global audience about the impact of the elephant ivory trade. To date, she has raised over £300k for charity.
Headline Speaker: Dr. Niall McCann National Geographic Explorer | Conservationist | Biologist
Niall is the Director of Conservation for National Park Rescue, a direct-action conservation organisation that focuses on preventing the slaughter of elephants, rhinos and lions in sub-Saharan Africa. Niall presented award-winning documentary Lost in the Amazon and two seasons of the multi award-winning Biggest and Baddest.
Bonus Speaker: Beks Ndlovu Professional Guide | Founder of African Bush Camps
Through African Bush Camps and their foundation, Beks became not only a tour operator but a social entrepreneur and is proving to be one of the most enterprising and inspiring players in the Tourism Industry, one who continues to promote and influence African travel on a global scale.
Proceeds from the evening go to the How Many Elephants Campaign which supports National Park
Rescue and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust in Zimbabwe and the Black Mambas in South Africa.
“An impactful campaign which highlights the need to end the killing of Africa's elephants by reducing the demand for ivory.” Tusk
About How Many Elephants:
The 'How Many Elephants' Campaign uses design as a powerful visual communication tool to raise global awareness of the devastating impacts of the African elephant crisis. Few people know that 96 African elephants are poached daily for their ivory. At this astonishing rate they will be extinct in the wild within a decade.
The multi award-winning, design-led campaign is hard-hitting in the way it showcases 35,000 elephant silhouettes, the current annual poaching rate in Africa, in a striking exhibition. Every day for a year, a square of 96 elephants is posted depicting the daily poaching rate to show the sheer scale of the poaching crisis. Gruesome images of mutilated elephants have been purposely avoided. To actually see and connect with this data visually is highly impactful.
About African Bush Camps
African Bush Camps is a private, owner-run African-based safari company that speaks to the art of service and offers you an authentic safari experience in the untamed African wilderness. Focused on your experience as our guest, our professional guides and nature enthusiasts will be on hand to ensure your journey with African Bush Camps is the very best safari experience imaginable.
How Many Elephants
World Endangered Species Day doesn't have to be limited to one day. Always choose #responsibletourism to help protect the animals of our environment.
Music: 'Acoustic Breeze' from Bensound.com Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. See website gillypickup.co.uk