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Owners dress donkeys in trousers and shirts to beat deadly fly menace

Owners of donkeys in Kenya have been dressing them in human trousers and tunics to save them from the deadly menace of biting flies.

Some 60 donkeys died in the eastern county Meru after swarms of stable flies hit the area this month.

The insects, stomoxys calcitrans, appeared after an extended period of heavy rain, which followed two years of drought.

“The flies started biting and sucking the blood of animals, leaving them with gaping wounds and highly vulnerable to infection,” said a spokesman for equine charity Brooke.

“Donkey owners decided to protect their animals by covering them in human trousers and blankets.”

Brooke East Africa and its partner, Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (KENDAT), successfully treated 736 donkeys at the start of January.

A team comprising Brooke, KENDAT and other locals including the county veterinary department and Chuka University determined the best treatment for the donkeys; drugs, wound management and pesticide spraying. They also treated 10 dogs.

Brooke East Africa programme manager Elijah Mithigi said: “While the sight of donkeys wearing human clothing might be amusing, it also shows the lengths people will go to protect their animals and how much they value them.

“Donkeys are sometimes the only means poor women and men in rural and urban communities use to transport food, water and other goods for domestic use and generation income so losing them can be disastrous.

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“Brooke was pleased to offer vital intervention after identifying the source of the issue, ensuring these hard-working donkeys could feed once again, free of biting.”

The team visited the owners again six days later and found the flies had disappeared and wounds were healing.

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