Reaching the oasis

How the Brooke is reaching out to working animals in the isolated communities living at the Siwa oasis in the heart of the desert next to the Libyan border

Lying just 50km away from the border with Libya, the Siwa Oasis is one of Egypt's most isolated settlements. Only 23,000 people, mostly Berbers-speakers who speak a distinct dialect, Siwi, live here growing dates, olives and other crops but also making handicrafts and jewellery to sell to the increasing number of tourists drawn to this unique culture.

Just over 3500 working equines live in the five villages that make up the oasis. Until 2007, when the Brooke started working here, they had virtually no access to medical care.

Today the Brooke undertakes regular monthly visits, providing up to 150 treatments at a time. In addition the team runs an education progamme for owners and has trained and equipped a number of farriers to provide treatment when the mobile team is not there.

In addition to that, the BHA mobile clinic team is cooperating with a group of local women known as desert guides, who are well established in their communities, have access to most families and who deliver animal welfare messages effectively.

Working animals here can have problems like others in Egypt – nose lesions caused by metal chains, overgrown hooves, lack of shade and painful mutilations mistakenly applied by traditional healers.

However, the donkeys in Siwa have free access to food and water and they generally carry less over shorter distances than other working animals in the country.

Best donkey competition

On the last Thursday of every year, the Brooke holds an annual best donkey competition, designed to further encourage owners to learn and put into practice good animal welfare.

The Brooke team uses a body condition score sheet to assess the general condition of each animal, with those with the highest scores winning prizes and their owners receiving public acclaim.

The owners of the  best three donkeys also received free saddles, hoof picks and free Brooke sun hats.

Contestants in the Brooke's best donkey competition

A Brooke vet examines one of the 3,500 working animals at the Siwa oasis in the Egyptian desert close to the border with Libya. © The Brooke.

The Brooke's best donkey competition

Contestants at the Brooke's annual best donkey competition at the Siwa oasis, which rewards owners who pracrice good animal welfare. © The Brooke

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