July - December 2001

 

NEW WEB SITE LAUNCHED!

Thanks to the dedication and expertise of Gary Constable, a supporter who we met a couple of years ago   in The Gambia, our web site is now up and running. There is a lot of information about our work and hopes for the future, brought to life with many photos. The site is still being completed but can be reached at www.gambicats.org.uk and we hope that those of you who have access will visit it and send us back any comments and suggestions. We are happy to consider adding photos which you may send us - please give us details about the photo(s) and let us know if you want them returned.
The Newsletters will be added and more news and information from time to time.
Many thanks Gary!

 

PALMA RIMA JOINS GambiCats!

 
We had received a number of letters and emails recently about the number of cats and kittens at the Palma Rima hotel and decided to make a fresh attempt to persuade them to join our neutering programme. We also enlisted the help of The Gambia Experience who support our programme and they contacted the hotel just before our visit.

We arrived on 15 January and were immediately struck by the large number of cats and kittens everywhere. The restaurant was invaded by hungry cats in the evening and our hearts sank a little.  The next day we arranged to see the Manager and were over the moon  to hear that he  agreed to join us and was offering to build a Cat Cafe!  By the time we left a number of cats had been caught and neutered, some kittens re-homed and the foundation laid for the Cafe.

Dodou is continuing the trapping and monitoring and will liaise with the hotel about the Cat Cafe and any future problems.

We would like to thanks all those guests who were at the Palma Rima during this time and who helped so much with identifying and catching the cats; feeding and looking after them after their ops; and generally giving such a boost during those weeks and after.  We also made some new friends and can now look forward to our next visit to the Palma Rima knowing that they are part of GambiCats.

PROGRESS WITH THE CATS AND DOGS

Dodou and the assistant trappers continue to monitor the neutered cats on the hotel sites and at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Banjul and carried out a worming programme in November and December. Despite Dodou having suffered 3 attacks of malaria in 2001 they have caught some 24 cats and have continued their successful campaign to persuade owners to have their cats neutered.


They have also fed cats on 4 sites during the 7 months when many hotels were closed - April to October. Two meals were given every day so that the cats did not besiege the hotels which were open. This has been successful and no killing has taken place this year to our knowledge.

The colonies have remained intact and stayed on their home sites waiting for the tourists to return! Our grateful thanks are due to the Alice Noakes Trust for their funding of this vital feeding programme and to donation from supporters.

We have received several emails and letters from visitors reporting the condition of cats and dogs they have encountered during their holidays. Some have been forwarded to tour operators and hotel managers for information and action.

The Senegambia hotel remain an ongoing problem with reports of kittens, sick cats and uncared for dogs coming from various visitors. We still have no agreements from the following hotels to trap and neuter their cats despite frequent visits to discuss the issue with owners and/or managers:

African Village, Kololi and Senegambia

We have not yet approached, or are still in discussions with the following:

Banna Beach, Coconut Residence, Ngala Lodge and Tafbel

 

43 beach dogs wormed!!

The beach dogs have been monitored to the best our ability during the period; worming tablets and ear treatments were given by Dodou and his assistants during September to some 43 dogs between Kololi and Fajara. We also appreciate the help given by various visitors as well as local people and we have provided supplies of worm tablets and antisceptics to them.

What you can do:
 
 *  let us know if you are willing to take out small items such as worm tablets
 
* write to hotel managers complimenting them on the good condition of cats
 
* let Dodou or us know about any cat problems
 
* let Dodou know about sick beach dogs - he can liaise with the most appropriate vet who knows the dogs and their history
 
* never encourage cats to come into restaurant and bar areas
 
* never encourage dogs into hotel grounds
 
*

when feeding cats make sure not to leave a mess and try to see if the manager might provide a Cat Cafe like the highly-successful one at the Kombo

 
* find out if it is acceptable to feed dog biscuits at beach bars and beware of causing fights between dogs!
 
* any comments about hotel cats or beach dogs made to hotel managements should be in writing with copies to your tour operator, and to GambiCats - it does make a difference
 

THE CLINIC - NO PROGRESS YET

 Unfortunately our application for funds from two major animal charities were unsuccessful. While the applications were agreed to be well presented and the need for such a facility well proven, the sheer number of applications and the limited amount of funding available meant that we will need to look elsewhere for support.

 We will continue to do this as every month brings cases which demonstrate the urgent need for such a clinic. During our last visit we were made aware yet again of the extra animals who could have been treated if such a facility existed near the beach area.

 If you have suggestions of possible sponsors - businesses can make grants to registered charities like GambiCats to reduce tax on profits - do let us know. The sum of around £8000 is small, even for a medium-sized local business, and we would be happy to put our case to  any such potential businesses, and publicise any donations.

 

 NEW LEGISLATION FOR VETS IN THE GAMBIA

During our visit we renewed contact with local vets and with Dr Loum, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Department of State for Agriculture. We learned that all vets who wish to practice in The Gambia, and veterinary nurses, are now required to register by the end of February 2002 with the Gambian Veterinary Association. If their qualifications are accepted and they pay the appropriate fee (higher for non-Gambians) they will be allowed to practice.

Any vet not registered will be unable to practice in The Gambia after February without applying for a special dispensation.

The legislation also creates a new body, the Veterinary Council who will be responsible for the regulation of veterinary work, ethical practices etc.

We hope that this legislation will regulate veterinary work and prevent the inhumane methods of euthanasia and control used in the past. It is also hoped that AWAG (the Association for the Welfare of Animals in The Gambia) will serve in an advisory role to the Council.

 

APPEAL FOR VETERINARY INSTRUMENTS AND MATERIALS

Our grateful thanks to the vets and especially veterinary nurses who have responded so generously to this Appeal.  Materials and instruments have been shipped out to the local vets by various supporters and we took more in January 2002 all of which was very gratefully received.  However, the vets still need more equipment, instruments and consumables,  and the following list outlines the main requirements:

Drontal worm tablets for cats and dogs
antiseptic cream or powder for minor skin wounds on the cats and dogs
multi-purpose ear cleaners
suture material
flea powder

If your local vet (or hospital!) can help please let us know. We can supply further information if required. Larger items such as autoclaves and surgery tables are also needed.

 

TRIBUTES

to 'the Chief'

Although few of you will have met 'the Chief' at the Fajara Hotel, we felt that he deserved a small tribute in this issue.  He was one of the first cats we met when we stayed at the hotel in the mid 1990s. A very affectionate tabby, he was the boss cat but he ruled in a very kindly laid-back style. He was one of the first cats to be caught and neutered in May 1998 and was soon back patrolling his patch.

Since the Fajara closed later in 1998, he and the rest of the colony have been fed daily by GambiCats, and some of the few remaining staff.

Arriving on a regular visit in November, Dodou noticed 'the Chief' was missing. After a couple of days he decided to make a thorough search of the grounds and eventually found our poor cat suffering from a horrific cut to the nose which looked as though it had been made by a cutlass.  The severity and condition of the wound was so bad that  the only option was to put him to sleep. Hotel staff were moved to tears, such had been their affection for him.

Dodou buried him in the GambiCats' graveyard between the Old Cape Road and the sea. We wish him and the other cats peace under the baobab trees.

and to Benson

we have to record, sadly, that Benson, a dog known to many who visit the Atlantic Hotel in Banjul, proved to be unsafe with some of the children and the hotel decided, reluctantly, to have him put to sleep at the end of 2001. Rumours spread that he had been shot but when we made enquiries the Manager, Mr Farrell, actually rang us in the UK to give us the true story. The episode demonstrates the impossibility of having a dog who is expected to be a guard dog by night and to be around children during the day, children who - in their ignorance - often tease him.

also during our stay one of the cats at the Kombo was knocked over in the road and died later; and the body of one of the Mariatou cats was also found on the same day. Staff at both hotels were very sad to lose these friendly cats.