In February of 2012, Dr. Dana joined yet another World Vets team on a mission to save an island. Not many people can say that, right?
Located in the Netherland Antilles, St. Eustatius is a small Caribbean island roughly two miles wide and about seven miles long. Once upon a time, the people used donkeys for transportation and for moving their goods around the island. Once roads and cars arrived, the islands inhabitants allowed their animals to roam freely. This in turn has also allowed them to reproduce unabated. Such a scenario has come to characterize the “donkey problem” that the island now faces – what to do about the roaming donkey population, especially in a location where the carrying capacity is very limited. Along with lack of feed in the summer months, island residents are unable to raise their own produce because the donkeys consider the entire island their grazing grounds. With failed attempts to ship them elsewhere and with inhabitants against euthanasia, the ministry of agriculture reached out to World Vets for assistance.
World Vets sent a team to St. Eustatius (also referred to as Statia) where we began to provide a humane solution for the roaming donkey population. Our team is operating a catch, castrate and release program for the island’s donkeys. Additionally, each donkey caught will receive a complete health exam as well as any treatments needed. While on the island, our team also reached out to the cat and dog population and performed one hundred sterilization surgeries and health consultations. And, wielding a tranquilizer gun, Dr. Dana responded to numerous calls from residents to assist cattle with various health problems.
Our team, in collaboration with the the ministry of agriculture, is making veterinary aid possible for the animals of St. Eustatius. More importantly, we are facilitating a much greater objective, that of helping restore the ecological balance and overall health for all the inhabitants of the island. Our work here is not done. After meeting and discussing solutions to the problems of the island, it was immediately apparent that we would not be able to fix everything in one trip. All of the livestock on the island, goats, cattle and donkeys, roam free. All of these animals need to be captured, tagged and permanently contained. This is a big job as the donkeys are quite feral, the cattle outnumber the people and the goats can elude capture on the cliffs and rocks of the island! Stay tuned as we will continue to update the saving of Statia!
All World Vets veterinary services are provided at no cost to the residents of Statia thanks to your generous donations to Dr. Dana and WorldVets!