Welcome to

The Karoo Donkey Sanctuary

Our Story

Founded in 2015 by Jonno Sherwin on his private 17-hectare lifestyle farm in Prince Albert of the Great Karoo region, our journey began.Severe prolonged drought in the area forced a mass-relocation and in March 2021, the sanctuary found a new home in The Crags (outskirts of Plettenberg Bay), on South Africa’s magical coastal Garden Route. Our move to Plettenberg Bay was temporary and when the property we were leasing sold, we decided to return to our roots back in Prince Albert in the Great Karoo where our beautiful new location affords us water security and ample space.

Africa saw the continued growth of theft, brutal bush-slaughter and skinning of donkeys in response to an increased Chinese demand for donkey skins. We acquired the majority of our rescued donkeys in January 2017 at an auction for slaughter in Hartswater, Nothern Cape province of South Africa. Over 500 emaciated, maimed and knife-branded donkeys, and in the region of 150 horses went under the hammer by body-weight that fateful day.

It is our belief that all the donkeys had either been stolen or forcibly acquired by illegal traders in the underground donkey skins trade and that the auction was the result of a significant skins deal having been intervened. Crowdfunding allowed us to save 236 donkeys that day and while we had never had horses in our care, further public donations and an outcry by the equine world meant us saving 36 emaciated horses that were destined for the horse-meat industry.

With over 60 of the donkey mares rescued having been in foal (in that they would have gone to slaughter whilst pregnant), by December 2017 our donkey herd numbers swelled to 330. Thanks to successful re-homing initiatives and to amazing people in our circle of donkey-rescue influence, we have to date successfully re-homed over 200 donkeys to wonderful forever retirement homes. This has left our current permanent herd sitting at 130 donkeys, of which 30 are in our special care unit.

In addition to our work at the sanctuary, we are also very active in our advocacy work - motivating African governments to impose bans on the commercial massacre of donkeys and the trade and export of their skins and body parts. A global genocide of the species is currently underway, and the impact stems further than the horrible cruelty that takes place. Donkeys are a hugely valuable part of African society and are estimated to support over 158 million people across the continent. 

In August 2021, through a collaborative effort with animal welfare partners on the ground, our evidence-based facts forced the closure of Africa’s largest donkey slaughterhouse located in Northern Tanzania and the resultant Tanzanian government ban imposed on the trade. Donkeys and people have long had a mutually beneficial relationship, and we aim to strengthen this. Outreach programs and education on donkey welfare ensure the ethical treatment and survival of this faithful worker, and his/her human family.

Whilst the rescue and rehabilitation of donkeys is our primary focus, we are also home to a range of other rescues - 45 horses, a herd of Nguni cattle, a Burchell’s zebra, ostriches, pigs, geese, goats, sheep, chickens, peacocks, turkeys and ducks.


KDS is a registered & verified Sanctuary of the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries, an Animal Welfare Non Profit Organisation as well as a registered Public Benefit Organisation. Section 18A Tax Certificates can be issued for donations  

Our hides are not to seek!

NPO No. 171-525
PBO No. 930062356