Bóthar, an Irish aid agency, sent over 5,000 food producing animals to Africa in a mammoth anniversary airlift last week.
‘And in a double boost for the aid agency ahead, MSD Animal Health, Ireland’s leading animal healthcare provider, has come on board as sponsor. MSD Animal Health offers the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services in Ireland.’
All-Ireland winning Dublin manager and pilot Jim Gavin joined the team on its its 25th anniversary airlift of 5,300 food-and-income producing animals to Rwanda.
The three times All-Ireland winning manager and one-time All-Ireland winning player joined a Bóthar senior staff crew of three on board the ‘Bóthar Ark’ when it took-off on Monday, October 10th from Shannon Airport for a five day mission to deliver the life-changing livestock to 797 already trained and prepared rural Rwandan families that are still affected by the genocide even after two decades of peace.
“The Bóthar Ark will be the biggest ever multi-species airlift from Ireland and the largest of its kind in the world. Almost half of the in-calf heifers will have been hand-reared by inmates at Shelton Abbey Prison and Loughan House Open Centre as part of their restorative justice programme.
The live cargo will comprise 37 in-calf heifers, three bulls for the Rwandan Government National Bovine Breeding Scheme, 160 pigs, 100 goats, and 5,000 chicks. Also on board will be 5,000 doses of Bovine Semen for the Rwandan Breeding Programme run by Bóthar’s sister agency Heifer International. Arising from the anniversary airlift, some 797 families will be set up with sustainable micro farming enterprises that will raise them from poverty and secure their futures.
The All-Ireland winning manager will join and work with the Bóthar team, MSD Animal Health representatives and volunteers from early on Monday at Roscrea Mart in Co. Tipperary where animals will be brought by donor farmers ahead of their transportation to Shannon Airport for the flight. They will be loaded at Shannon into custom built units that provide for the animals’ comfort, safety and rest during the overnight flight, which departs Shannon that evening for Kigali in Rwanda.
On arrival in Rwanda, the animals – producing yields that are multiples of what local animals deliver – will be placed in quarantine to rest and adjust to their new environment before being delivered to the recipient families.
Speaking today ahead of the trip, the Dublin manager said: “I’ve been to Africa many times before with work but I’m particularly looking forward to this trip. A lot of people in Ireland have it really hard today but nothing compared to what we’re going to see next week.
“We are going to be visiting some of the poorest people of the world with an aid agency that is giving them a real shot at improving their lot beyond their wildest dreams. I’ve been very impressed by what Bóthar does and very struck by the generosity of Irish farmers in donating these precious animals and Bóthar’s other donors in helping to raise money to buy more.”
The Clondalkin man is, of course, no stranger to air travel as he is a qualified pilot, Airbus A320 trained and is an Assistant Director with the Irish Aviation Authority.
Said Bóthar CEO Dave Moloney: “Jim contacted us earlier this year and said he liked what we do and asked how he could help us. It’s not often that type of thing happens in Ireland; where someone with his profile makes contact with a charity and asks to help. We were bold enough to ask him if he would be up for travelling with us on our most important airlift ever and he just said ‘yes, when does it go’.
“In addition, we are delighted to announce our new partnership with MSD Animal Health who we believe will be a great addition to the programme with their significant experience in the area of animal health.”
Welcoming the partnership, Seamus Maguire, General Manager MSD Animal Health said, “For more than 25 years, MSD has been committed to donating Mectizan to help eliminate river blindness in affected areas in Africa. MSD is now delighted to support Bóthar Ark with this fantastic project; giving what are among the most impoverished people in the world a gift of quality food and income producing Irish animals which will literally change their lives. Bóthar is doing incredible work and we look forward to keeping up to date online next week on what promises to be a very special trip.”
Bóthar was established in Limerick in 1991 as an initial one-of gesture of airlifting cows to 20 families in a poverty stricken region of Uganda to mark the city’s ‘Treaty 300’ celebrations. Since then it has grown into one of Ireland’s leading international NGOs. Over the past 25 years, the organisation has delivered thousands of animals annually to families in 35 countries across Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe.
While the organisation started out with an airlift of Irish heifers, it broadened its livestock donations in the early years to include Irish goats and pigs. It now also purchases the water buffalo, camels and bees in project countries.
Top of the list of donations is the Bóthar ‘Global Village’ – a herd including a dairy cow, two dairy goats, three dairy camels, four pigs, five flocks of hens and six bee hives that will be distributed among 17 poor families. Donations to Bóthar start at just €10 for a share of a snail farm and run right up to the €5,000 for the Bóthar Global Village.
About MSD Animal Health
MSD Animal Health is Ireland’s leading animal healthcare provider, dedicated to preserving and improving the health, well-being and performance of animals in Ireland. MSD globally operates in 140 countries and its portfolio spans both therapeutic to preventative-based animal medicines.
In Ireland, MSD offers the widest range of veterinary pharmaceuticals, vaccines and health management solutions and services to animal health professionals, farmers, pet owners and governments.
Based in Leopardstown, Dublin, we employ approximately 30 people across our core areas: Ruminants, Companion Animal and Intensive Livestock and our activities include marketing and sales and R&D.
Ireland is famous for its sustainable grass-based production systems. Our focus on the science of healthier animals with our vaccine range has helped farmers increase production in a sustainable way and helped reduce antibiotic use in food-producing animals. We have worked with veterinary practitioners across Ireland to communicate the benefits of vaccination to farmers. The benefits include preventing disease and delivering significant cost reduction to farmers.”