On the dusty road: Meet the ass-lover on a mission
He's walking all the way to Morocco to save Africa's donkeys from the Chinese medicine trade
Keegan Horn is so passionate about saving Africa’s donkeys from slaughter and abuse that he quit his full-time job to walk across the continent for two years to raise funds to aid them.
The Eastern Cape animal lover – once employed in the local film industry – started his grueling journey on foot in April. He is carrying only what is needed to walk across Africa (from Bathurst to Morocco), spreading awareness of animal cruelty and helping any animals he can along the way.
With a small tent and huge determination, he will be relying on the kindness and compassion of animal lovers. He has already covered more than 700km in his bid to raise funds and highlight the plight of donkeys, scores of which are being bludgeoned, skinned and exported to China for the production of Ejiao – a gelatin-like substance used in costly Chinese traditional medicines.But a recent report by the Humane Society International found that Ejiao had “less nutrition than a cabbage” and that the animals were actually being killed in vain.
British charity The Donkey Sanctuary estimates that the demand coming from China could reach up to 10 million donkeys per year, representing almost a quarter of the entire global donkey population.
Horn, 30, is using his walking adventure as a means to do good for the animals. “I have met many donkeys on this amazing journey and they all looked healthy and happy.
“I really want to help these beautiful creatures and now I am raising awareness on social networks and by word of mouth. I have put the word out that people can donate. The money will go to designated foundations and hopefully we can adopt a donkey.”He quit his job when he could no longer ignore his calling. “I have always been adventurous, doing tours for myself, but I wanted to make a difference.
“And after years of working and being frustrated with not actually getting anywhere I decided I wanted to do something for the greater good of our community or raising awareness against animal cruelty.”
Horn is documenting is journey on his Facebook page “A Donkey’s Life”.
He has only reached the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast and already Horn has many tales to tell, like walking 15km barefoot through Msikaba Nature Reserve on the Wild Coast, setting up camp at a police station in Port Edward, hurting his shin and not being able to walk for three weeks and encountering many people and animals off the beaten path.
“I have been so lucky to this day on my trip. I have slept in bushes, tents, rondavels, police stations, caravans, churches and even on a yacht.”His diet is as varied and interesting as his sleeping spots. “I eat all sorts ... anything that comes my way. Depending on where you are, the menu varies.
“I have eaten pap with soya mince or pap and peanut butter and a power mix I carry with me. On most of the Transkei stretch, I just picked up any fresh fruit that I could.
“When you’re burning calories all day, you eat like there’s no tomorrow and you are super grateful for anything that’s offered to you,” he said.
Horn estimates that his journey will take two years to complete. “But I don't think I will walk solidly every day. So we will have to wait and see.”
He aims to cover 20 countries including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Algeria and Morocco.
Horn’s main worldly possession is his backpack.
“My bag contains a lot of things – everything very important. I will reveal everything I have in my bag at a later stage. It weighs between 16 and 20kg, depending on how scarce produce is and how far I have to be independent for.”
He is mindful of the dangers that such a trek could pose.
“I only think about it a lot because people always tell me how dangerous they think a place is or ask me if I'm scared. And all I can say is I am scared of a lot of things and I feel like I have overcome some fears over the years by confronting the unknown.
“I will go forth with an open mind, giving it my all and I will be as careful as possible because I have a goal.”