Apart from the Urban Herd that wanders through the suburbs at will, we have had to become used to donkeys walking through town. Increasingly though, they too have been making their way through the suburbs and even up to the abandoned golf course on the edge of town. I know we are not the only ones to take a few carrots with us now and then to feed them; several residents have taken to placing buckets or basins of water outside their gates for the donkeys to quench their thirst – where else will they get water? Cradock Dam is empty and the leaking water pipes tend to be in the middle of the road – not a safe place to drink at all!

Not long ago, five donkeys were grazing on the abandoned golf course. I got out of the car to photograph them more easily and was taken aback when four of them trotted right at me! The one in the background paid no heed – perhaps it was really hungry.

They pushed against me as I paused to pat them and stroke them – and tried to get a little distance to photograph one or two.

This wasn’t easy as I had no sooner lifted my camera when a head was shoved under my arm.

It was with a degree of reluctance that I left them nuzzling each other under the trees.


The year has started with its usual nonsense of having to be here, do that, go there, pull this, load that. We need a break – a real one – albeit out in the open. This pile of sand left over from some or other building operation is not only warm, it is soft and good to roll around on. Hey! We almost blend into our background – no-one will take much notice of us!

And so it was that I happened upon this pair of donkeys fast asleep on a pavement in the suburbs. When I stopped to look at them they opened their eyes, looked at me then fell back. The one on the right then bestirred itself to have a good back scratch while it rolled – then they both had more shut-eye.


Donkeys roam all over our town. The other day we came across one that had been waiting patiently at a gate, lost patience and began braying and stamping its feet. We assume it is used to being given a carrot or some other food there. Early one morning in another part of town we saw a donkey walking up and down along a stretch of the pavement when a woman came out, still wearing her dressing gown, with a basin of water and a bunch of carrots. “I feed them every morning”, she told us. In fact, driving around the suburbs, I have become conscious of several plastic basins of water placed on the pavements outside homes and imagine these are mostly for the benefit of donkeys.

Yes, these donkeys do have owners. They are occasionally rounded up to pull carts to collect firewood or to transport other goods from one place to the next. One can tell that not all have been treated well for many bear the marks of having been lashed, while others have open sores. An elderly couple were spotted recently rubbing salve on the leg of a donkey outside their home. Other donkeys have their tails trimmed in different ways, to differentiate one from another: I have seen several with the tail hairs cut short around the edges, leaving a long section in the middle; some tails have been cut straight at the bottom; others at an angle – all to make it easier for their owners to recognise them.

We have seen this particular trio of donkeys grazing in the veld on the hill opposite our house and have named them the ‘forest donkeys’. Okay, there is no forest there; there never was, but all the young trees that have been growing since the area was devastated by fire a few years ago have been eaten by herds of cattle that roam the area.

These donkeys are on the road leading to the army base on the edge of town – the buildings in the background – and are next to the aerodrome. The latter is well fenced and we have not yet seen any animals grazing on it.

While donkeys do not belong in urban areas, we have become used to their presence and who can resist the plight of these creatures that are used and abandoned at will by their owners. Until this area receives the rain it so sorely needs, many kind-hearted residents will continue to provide water and carrots to help them along.


Apart from the various Urban Herds that invade our town, there are a number of donkeys that are let loose to find their own food along the grass verges – sadly many of them also break open the plastic bags of garbage if they are not collected in time. Some residents have started to place large containers of water outside their gates for the donkeys to drink – where else are they to find water in a drought-stricken town? Sometimes there might be a single donkey such as this one:

We came across these frisky donkeys in a side street – it is spring after all:

Three is a crowd