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Karoo Donkey Sanctuary

Our mission is to relieve the suffering of overworked and abused cart-horse donkeys by providing them with a forever home.

How to Enjoy Karoo Donkey Sanctuary

Founded in 2015 by Jonno Sherwin on his private 17 hectare lifestyle farm in the picturesque village of Prince Albert in the arid Great Karoo region, severe prolonged drought in the area forced a mas-relocation and in March 2021, the sanctuary found a new home in The Crags, outside Plettenberg Bay on South Africa’s magical coastal Garden Route. From a life of dust and semi-desert topography, the new facility offers 70 hectares of lush grazing and ample natural water

With the Chinese demand for donkey skins and the resultant theft, brutal bush-slaughter and skinning of donkeys across Africa that seemed to reach its crescendo in late 2016; the vast majority of our rescued donkeys were acquired via crowd funding at an auction for slaughter in January 2017 that took place in Hartswater in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Over 500 emaciated, maimed and knife-branded donkeys and in the region of 150 horses went under the hammer by body-weight that fateful day.

It is our belief that all the donkeys had either been stolen or forcibly acquired by illegal traders in the underground donkey skins trade and that the auction was the result of a significant skins deal having been intervened. We were able to save 236 donkeys that day and while we had never had horses in our care, public donations and an outcry by the equine world availed our also saving 36 emaciated horses that were destined for the horse-meat industry.

With over 60 of the donkey mares rescued having been in foal, (in that they would have gone to slaughter whilst pregnant) by December 2017, our donkey herd numbers swelled to 330. Thanks to successful re-homing initiatives and to amazing people in our circle of donkey-rescue influence, we have to date successfully re-homed over 200 donkeys to wonderful forever retirement homes leaving our current permanent herd sitting at 130 donkeys of which 30 are in our special care unit.

Notwithstanding our work at the sanctuary, with the global genocide of the species currently underway, we are also very active in our advocacy work in motivating African governments to impose bans on the commercial massacre of donkeys and the trade in their skins and body parts (to China).

In August 2021, in a collaborative effort with animal welfare partners on the ground, our evidence-based facts forced the closure of Africa’s largest donkey slaughterhouse located in Northern Tanzania and the resultant Tanzanian government ban imposed on the trade.

While the rescue and rehabilitation of donkeys is our primary focus, we are also now home to 45 rescued horses, a rescued herd of Nguni cattle, a rescued Burchell’s zebra by the name of Serengeti, ostriches and no less than 15 other species that have all been saved from slaughter.

What people say

Enjoyed the experience. The guide was very knowledgeable and we thought it was very cute that all t...  -  Trevor Van der Miller .

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Opinions On Karoo Donkey Sanctuary

What people say about Karoo Donkey Sanctuary.

Trevor Van der Miller

Enjoyed the experience. The guide was very knowledgeable and we thought it was very cute that all the animals had been named. Although very sad to see and hear how these animals had been mistreated before, we appreciated the fact that they had been rescued and were now receiving the love and care that they deserved. Keep up the good work

Trevor Van der Miller  experienced the 1 Hour Guided Sanctuary Tour

Lesley Price

We had a delightful tour around this amazing Animal Sanctuary. Learnt a lot of information about their beloved sanctuary donkeys, their life, their characters, habits and each ones individual story. Most of all I guess we also learnt what happens when someone's passion turns into a life saving home for hundreds of animals in need --- if we all cared this much, the world would certainly be a better place!

Lesley Price experienced the 1 Hour Guided Sanctuary Tour

Jules Kingaby

What a beaut time spent with the whole crew - humans, donkeys, pigs, chickens, goats, cats and ostriches! You guys are doing an amazing job and one can feel the love. Thank you. Jules

Jules Kingaby experienced the 1 Hour Guided Sanctuary Tour

Debbie Tacon

Thoroughly enjoyed the visit. Keep up the good work

Debbie Tacon experienced the 1 Hour Guided Sanctuary Tour

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