When a powerful earthquake hit the villagers of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains on Friday, they were confronted with a situation they had never known before.
They dug desperately through the rubble to rescue loved ones or find their bodies so they could bury them, while rescue crews were held up by mountain roads choked by rocks that fell during the magnitude 6.8 earthquake.
Heavy machinery was deployed to clear the roads, and rescue teams worked to open access points to the mountain. But it took time – time the villagers didn’t have.
The villagers, accustomed to the mountainous terrain, found a foolproof method to move themselves and their materials: their donkeys.
Photos have emerged of villagers using donkeys to clear rubble, deliver relief supplies to harder-to-reach areas and get people to where they need to go.
The agile creatures have been able to weave their way along barely visible tracks, laden with bulging saddlebags and sometimes even dragging a person on their backs.
Families who had lost their homes made shelters wherever they could and made sure to erect poles to which they could tie their donkeys. They also ensured that they could feed and continue to care for the donkeys, which under these conditions have become much more than simple pack animals.