There have been a number of major natural disasters around the world recently; one of the most horrific was the 6.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco on September 10. The earthquake caused massive damage to villages in the High Atlas Mountain region, killing nearly 3,000 people, and while rescue crews with much-needed heavy machinery were dispatched, time was running out.

According to a report from Al Jazeera,  the locals turned to the humble donkey for help. Villagers used their donkeys and mules to move rock and rubble out of the way in order to rescue survivors and pull bodies from the damaged areas. The animals were also the perfect transportation to bring in desperately needed supplies from relief groups, or to carry whatever belongings were able to be salvaged from residents’ destroyed homes. Photos depict men, women, and children leading donkeys carrying large loads, or riding them through their quake-damaged towns. Donkeys are also able to traverse narrow pathways and trails that trucks and cars can’t, ensuring that even remote villages had access to supplies.

Vets attending to a donkey.

SPANA teams in the field provide lifesaving care and support to working animals in desperate need; their vets have also been helping other animals including goats, sheep and dogs. (SPANA Facebook photo)

Long a vital part of villages in this part of the world, these small “beasts of burden” are four-legged heroes following such a tragic event. But of course, all this work can come at a cost for the donkeys. And that’s where organizations such as SPANA, a charity for working animals, comes into play. Their team of vets and their mobile clinic have been on the ground in Morocco treating donkeys and mules that have become injured or exhausted from the increased demand on them during the crisis. In a September 18th update on its Facebook page, the group wrote, “SPANA is continuing to provide lifesaving care and support to working animals in desperate need following the devastating earthquake that struck Morocco. Yesterday (18 September), SPANA teams worked in villages across affected areas, including Ouzid, Moulay Brahim, Asni, Amizmiz, Amaghras and Amazi. Our vets delivered vital treatment to 13 donkeys suffering from wounds and other injuries. The team has also been helping other animals in need of care, including goats, sheep and dogs.”

In such catastrophic events such as happened in Morocco, it proves that it really does take a village, and its donkeys, to survive hardship.

If you wish to help the organization, they have an urgent appeal for donations on their site here.