January – June 2008

GambiCats’ 10th Anniversary –

Invitation - come and join us in The Gambia!

We are planning a party to celebrate, and extend an invitation to all supporters who can get to

The Gambia during the period November 10–24 to contact us before August 31. If you have not

been before and would like information, please get in touch.


This time we chose the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) Clinic at Abuko as the location for our
neutering programme as we hoped that more local people would be encouraged to bring in their dogs and cats
for neutering as well as having anti-rabies vaccinations

The DLS site was set up by the British in 1952 and the buildings are practical and spacious, but due to many
changes over the past few years, some have become run down. Luckily a number of the staff were very
enthusiastic about the Clinic and with Dodou's input work soon started to repair the electricity and water
supplies. The Clinic and recovery area were fully disinfected and by Tuesday January 15 we were ready.




The team this time included a vet from the Netherlands, Rob Schell, who had heard about GambiCats on the web and had already made a generous donation of veterinary items. Rob volunteered his time and also paid his own travel and staying costs in addition to providing a large amount of drugs and supplies - what an offer! He devoted nearly 6 full days of his week's visit to the Clinic and Yvonne, his wife, also put in a couple of days helping! For vet nurse Suzanne Jones, this was her fourth visit to help us - and her fourth vet! Luckily she and Bob soon settled into an efficient pattern of work - even sharing a liking for the same music, when energy levels needed restoring in the Clinic, as well as glasses of strong green tea!

The GambiCats team of Dodou and Alajie, with help from Foday (DLS), were kept very busy bringing in animals, discussing  problems and translating instructions for further medication with owners, assisting with operations, monitoring the patients, keeping the clinic and recovery room clean, weighing dogs, etc. Frances tried to keep some record of what was happening, take photos and get in supplies of tea, water, juice and biscuits.

Tuesday got off to a steady start which helped everyone get used to working together. Three dogs came in from Gambian owners plus one stray caught by Foday and Alajie. Three were females which gave Rob a good introduction to working under Gambian conditions. Rob also had the great idea of giving owners a reward of a luxury pen in a silver case from a supply brought from the Netherlands!

On Wednesday we were greeted again by Bobby, the first dog neutered. He had been stabbed in the chest during the night by robbers breaking into his compound! The wound was serious and our medicine chest limited, however Rob and Suz cleaned and dressed it and Bobby's owner was asked to return for more dressings during the next days which he did several times. Bobby is now OK.

As there were several cats at Palm Beach Hotel where we were staying, we decided to take some for neutering and caught 2 at breakfast on Wednesday. Five more were caught over the next days. The past Director of the DLS, Jabel Sowe, a good friend from previous visits, brought in his dog which had broken a leg bone – luckily we had some splints and these were put to good use. Mr Sowe returned several more times for the bandages to be replaced and the splints checked.
Although word-of-mouth helped spread news about the Clinic to prospective customers, we also used announcements on the three Gambian radio stations (in 4 languages), and in local mosques, to publicise the Clinic. These produced good results and we will certainly use them in future visits.


Over the 5½ days the Clinic was open some 63 dogs and cats were seen and treated in some way; 37 dogs and 12 cats were neutered. The dogs were usually given anti-rabies injections. A number of others were treated for wounds and skin conditions and one returned to have her stitches renewed and a collar provided to stop a repeat situation.

The most demanding operation was the amputation of a front leg on a rescued dog named Micky. He was brought in on Saturday after 11 dogs had already been neutered by the team. The operation was long and demanding but he was a strong dog and is making a good recovery. His owner received a supply of bandages so that the dressing could be changed regularly with supervision from a local vet.

There were some sad moments, several of the kittens at Palm Beach Hotel seemed to have a virus and died or had to be put to sleep. We also found a beautiful yellow and green chameleon in the grounds near the Clinic - unfortunately s/he was pronounced DOA after some rehydration was attempted!

Our 4 year-old Pajero also seized up one morning which involved a lot of running around for Dodou getting it fixed, and alternative transport arrangements having to be made for a day. We welcomed a number of visitors including Dr B Jaw, Director DLS, Dr Daffe, Assistant Director DLS, Dr Sanyang (ITC), Dr Favouray (ITC), Dr Jarju (DLS), Dr Sonko (DLS), Mr Bah (DLS), private vets Dr Micha Meyer and Dr Joof. Our long-time supporter, local vet Dr Ousman Ceesay also visited briefly, a family bereavement prevented him from staying on but Paul, his assistant, was able to attend.

We were very pleased to meet Mrs Oumie Saho again, who is in charge of the DLS Clinic and attended our Workshop at Abuko in 2000; also Mr Borrie Jabang, Head of Microbiology at DLS, who also gave us a great amount of support in setting up the Clinic, even devoting his weekend to helping!

It was New Year in The Gambia on January 18th – perhaps this helped make this a very successful and enjoyable Clinic?

Special thanks to everyone who helped especially Rob and Suzanne, Borrie Jabang, Foday and Alajie, Peter for his support and expert packing, and of course Dodou who holds it all together. First Choice who still allow charities to take free extra baggage, Joost Jan Waanders of Novartis (NL) for vet medicines and gift pens, and the Department of Livestock Services and Dr Jaw for providing the clinic facility and staff support.


The 2008 season seems set to be one of worst for tourism in The Gambia and this affects not only people working in the tourist industry, but also the stray cats and beach dogs who rely on visitors for much of their food. Some 10 hotels and many restaurants are already closed and we are providing food daily on twelve sites. Kombo Beach hotel has seen an invasion of hungry cats from neighbouring hotels and Dodou is working hard to lure the cats to other feeding stations. Even the Sheraton has joined us and will be helping with costs.



We promised a report on progress neutering the cats here and hope these photos will give some idea of this little oasis on the  River Gambia. There are a couple of small bars overlooking the water, lots of cats and dogs, also some chickens! To date some 17 female and 6 male cats have been neutered - a big improvement, but more remain to be caught & they will be the most wary ones....









Dodou with a neutered cat


A chicken may look at a kitten!



Two kittens who need their snips


For someone who doesn't smoke or drink, and who is on the go 24/7, it seems very unfair that Dodou has now been told that he has Type 2 Diabetes. He now reports to the Clinic at the Royal Victoria Training Hospital monthly, and can monitor his blood glucose levels with an Accu-Chek machine. He also has some information on helpful diets and we all wish him well in managing this condition.

This story illustrates how things go in The Gambia! During the Abuko clinic in January 2008, a very pretty tortoiseshell female cat was caught and neutered from Palm Beach Hotel. Her territory was the breakfast terrace together with 2 other cats. We were at the hotel in April and were pleased to see her looking well. Tom & Renata, Dutch couple, were taking good care of her and we learned the amazing story of their first meeting with 'Poetie 2' in January 2007. At that time she was in a terrible state and they finally took her to the clinic at Abuko where she was treated and medication prescribed which they gave to her every day of their holiday! [Their rescue cat, now 11 years old, was called 'Poetie'].
So, thanks to various acts of concern & kindness, Poetie lives to fight another year!



Many of you will have eaten some delicious meals at Luigi's Restaurant – Julie, who is the master chef, has produced a colourful cookery book containing 15 receipes for West African dishes including benechin, domoda and desserts such as naanburu. The instructions are clear and most of the ingredients can be found in the UK. Julie has donated the profits on sales of some copies to GambiCats so let us know if you'd like a copy (price £5.50 incl. P&P; cheques payable to GambiCats).

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has helped us in the past, especially with the purchase of the Pajero. We were happy to welcome two staff from their Africa office, Stephen Chacha and Pendo Gondwe, who were paying their first visit to The Gambia. They visited Denton Bridge and several hotel sites; met Dr Jaw (Dept of Livestock Services) and our vet Dr Ceesay, and heard the problems first-hand from Dodou.

As usual we have a wish list of items for The Gambia which will save our funds and help the cats and dogs: dog collars and leads – perhaps second-hand from your vet; prescription flea and worm treatments especially Drontal, Capstan and Advocate; Wound Care ointment by Multiderm; also mobile phones – vital for keeping the team in touch when trapping!

AWAG committee
While in The Gambia we also managed a get- ogether with committee members over supper – the six provide important support for our work and help with advice and publicity.