July – December 2000

Neutering Programme at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Banjul

In November 1999 we visited the Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH)in response to news about the large colony of cats in the hospital grounds. A meeting with the Chief Executive, Dr Mariatou Jallow, was positive, with support for a neutering programme rather than the old methods of netting and poisoning. The only problems were funds, a place to carry out operations and a vet (there are none in Banjul).

Early this year we met David Griffiths, veterinary consultant for WSPA and with experience of neutering in a bewildering number of countries. He had a spare week in November! The Cats Protection League generously came up with funds and after much searching we were pleased to be offered a room in an annex at the Atlantic Hotel, next door to the RVH, to use as a surgery.

We set about ordering more traps, drugs, vet bedding, a pressure cooker (for sterilising the instruments), and much more. Dodou Bojang and the two assistant trappers, Kemo and Alhaji, made sure all our equipment in The Gambia was ready, and we arrived on November 21st ready to go.

We immediately received some devastating news – the RVH had decided not to wait for our visit and, without informing us, had requested the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) to remove cats shortly before our visit! Unfortunately the DLS vet who supervised this used the same cruel methods of netting and poisoning despite their official policy of humane trapping and neutering.

We walked around the RVH that evening to see if any cats remained and talked to staff and patients. They confirmed the netting and poisoning and estimated around 27 cats had been killed on one site alone!

This was dreadful news. However, the staff and patients said that there were still a lot of cats left and we saw four during our visit. The decision was made to carry on with the programme and see how many cats could be caught. The staff and patients were pleased and, as always, deplored the cruelty of the netting and poisoning.

 The next day we set up the surgery and the recovery room at the Atlantic Hotel – it was basic but had an ensuite shower and WC. The hotel staff were very helpful and a fridge and fan were provided. An old table was found for the operations which we stood on blocks to bring up to the correct height, recovery cages were set out around the walls and we waited for our trappers to entice the remaining frightened cats into the box traps.

By midday Thursday two beautiful female kittens around two months old had been brought in. One was ginger, the other a dark tabby. A cat from the Badala Park Hotel also arrived to keep David busy.

In the early evening more cats had been caught at the RVH and we decided to split the trappers and cover the main site plus the psychiatric unit and the TB clinic sites. The best time proved to be late at night- the worst time for the mosquitoes too – so David waited for the patients to arrive. By Monday 27th November nineteen cats had been caught, examined, neutered and returned to site at the RVH. Of these eleven were female and between them they were carrying twenty three foetuses.

So, despite the bad start, we felt that we had achieved a successful result in neutering nineteen cats and preventing twenty three unwanted kittens being born in such circumstances. The trappers will continue to monitor the health of the neutered cats and to trap the very difficult cats which remain.

In addition to the RVH cats, David also neutered six other female cats brought in by local people and examined two others. He also spayed one female dog, and castrated Dodou’s young dog called Spana! We were delighted to be able to find homes for the two RVH kittens, one with our trapper Alhaji, the other with a Peace Corps worker.

During the following week we visited the RVH to report on the situation and impress on them the need to continue humane control methods. We also visited the DLS and Department of Agriculture to leave spare medicines and equipment, and to register our concern about the vet who had carried out the netting and poisoning. We talked to the three vets who help with our programme and they strongly condemned such practices and agreed that in future, such matters should be brought before the new Veterinary Council which is being set up in January 2001.

Our grateful thanks to the CPL who made the whole programme possible; to David Griffiths who volunteered his time and expertise; to Battle Hospital Theatre who donated various supplies; to vet Jim Goodwin who persuaded various companies to donate some expensive drugs; to Bayer who donated supplies of Drontal worm tablets; to the Atlantic Hotel who made the room available and to Monarch Airlines who allowed us to take extra baggage free.

FROM BEACH TO BUSH! PROGRESS 
1998 – 2000

We have been adding up the number of cats which GambiCats has neutered since May 1998 and think our supporters will be interested in the results.

Our first area of concern when we started in May 1998 was the hotels. By the end of 2000 more than one hundred and fifty cats have been neutered; around fifty kittens have been found new homes, and some nineteen cats humanely put to sleep.

It is a major tribute to Dodou that he has also carried the neutering message into the community and persuaded and helped many individual Gambians to have their cats neutered. Thus some one hundred and forty four cats from Serekunda, Fajara, Bijilo, Manjai, Bundung, Sukata, Churchill Town, Bakau, Talinding and many other areas have been neutered thanks to his efforts.

If we included the animals treated at the 2000 Spring Abuko Neutering Workshop and during the RVH programme an impressive total of 324 cats have been neutered.

 THIS IS A GREAT ACHIEVEMENT AND OUR THANKS GO TO DODOU AND HIS TRAPPERS; THE VETS WHO HAVE HELPED US; AND ALL WHO HAVE CONTRIBUTED IN VARIOUS WAYS TO HIS SUCCESS:

BUT WHAT OF THE FUTURE?

 We are now faced with the challenge of carrying on and expanding this success. SPANA, who gave us such a boost in the first two years, will sadly be drastically stepping down their support from 2001. Their funds came from their ‘Outreach‘ budget and we now need to make up the shortfall if we are to maintain the momentum, let alone expand.

 We will continue to approach trusts and charities for specific needs and projects such as the provision of a clinic near the beach area, funds to care for and neuter more dogs, and provision of better equipment for the vets, but we need your help to fund our core costs.

 The following is an outline of such costs per month

 

            - 2 assistant trappers salaries:                                  £ 90.00
            - maintaining a car to visit hotels, take
  
            cats to and from vets, feed at various sites etc.: £ 80.00
            - phone calls and rental costs in The Gambia        £ 34.00
            - providing food for cats when hotels are closed  £ 200.00
                                                                                                   ______           
              TOTAL MONTHLY COST                                     £ 404.00
                                                                                                   ______

In addition we would like to fund the following in 2001 :
 

*  replace our current aged car with a newer one which has more space to carry cats in cages in comfort, e.g. a Peugeot 505 estate.
* provision of leaflets about neutering and general welfare of cats and dogs. 

         

PLEASE HELP US TO CONTINUE TO IMPROVE

THE WELFARE OF CATS & DOGS

IN THE GAMBIA

           FUNDS ARE URGENTLY NEEDED!

PROGRESS WITH THE BEACH DOGS


Our resources have not allowed us to do more than respond to reports from tourists of individual problems. The trappers are experienced dog handlers and we would like to be able to provide more help. Setting up a clinic near the beach area, which we mentioned as a goal for 2001, would ensure proper facilities for neutering and aftercare could take place.

THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE WELFARE OF
ANIMALS IN THE GAMBIA (AWAG)

AWAG continues to meet regularly and has been in contact with the Senegambia hotel concerning it’s lack of interest in the cats and dogs on it’s site. The Committee has helped with the RVH programme and will be offering it’s advice to the new Veterinary Council as a liason body in 2001. We are sorry to announce that the Treasurer, Kawsu Jatta, is at present in the RVH following a car accident, and we wish him a speedy recovery.