February 28, 2011
Upheaval in the Middle East
On the ground in Egypt
by Luke Gamble MRCVS (WVS) and Dr Hassan Abdelrahim (HSI)
In the wake of recent political unrest, numerous reports were filed with international animal charities regarding the welfare of animals in Egypt. Specifically, concern was raised about the animals within Cairo, where a high proportion of the resident population has been severely affected by virtual paralysis of economic trade.
In the days following the initial protests, Humane Society International coordinated the first international response to assist companion animals in desperate need of help. Dogs and cats everywhere had been abandoned, and shelters—already at capacity—were overflowing, with many animals in need of urgent treatment.
Under the direction of Dr. Hassan Abdelrahim, HSI’s Middle East manager, and Worldwide Veterinary Service—with funding from The Maria Norbury Foundation and The Marchig Animal Welfare Trust—we set up a central base and hospital station hosted by two local organizations, ESMA and Animal Haven, to attend to animals from all the dog and cat shelters in Cairo. With rolling rotating teams on the ground, we are helping hundreds of animals with treatments from amputations to review for parasites and illness, and providing training and support to Egyptian vets working on the frontlines of animal welfare.
At the zoo
We found animals at Giza Zoo in sub-optimal condition, but with adequate food and water. The zoo is highly valued by the residents of Cairo and an announcement on the radio expressing concern on day four of the revolution had members of the public coming to the zoo to check that the animals were being cared for! We met with the zoo’s director and hope that in time we might be able to advise and assist in ways that would benefit them.
HSI observed other NGOs running a well-resourced and efficient program for horses, donkeys and camels. The treatment station we visited was well-managed and sufficiently supplied to cope with large numbers of animals. Just this week, we began a feeding program for camels—animals used extensively in the tourism industry, which has come to a virtual halt. Most working animals have received food and veterinary attention during this crisis, but there are currently few places for camels to obtain food and care. HSI decided to step in for this reason to help prevent any further suffering.
We continue to make plans for short and longer-term efforts in aid of animals in Egypt.