Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt's animals need your help

My previous blog posting brought attention to the very dire situation facing many animals in Egypt at the moment.

Since I have posted, I have gotten more updates on the situation as it is at the moment.

I have always been a horse lover. I have always felt that there is a gentle intelligence behind a horse's eye. It is a true partnership to experience a bond with a horse; knowing that an animal much stronger, much heavier than you can respond to your own body language is a truly indescribable moment. There is a reason that horses are used in many rehabilitation programs; they are known for being so in-tune with human emotions. Our history would not follow the path it has done were it not for our close relationship with horses.

But horses in Egypt are suffering.

Horses in Egypt are falling victims everyday to the changing tide that has swept the country. As I previously mentioned, the impact to the tourism industry has trickled down to the average stable owner around the pyramids. I did not, however, grasp the scale of the problem.

The Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA) sent out a team of volunteers to scope the damage themselves. A small group spread the word that ESMA would be in the area to provide feed for grossly malnourished horses. Using one stable as a base from which to work, ESMA volunteers were unable to anticipate the volume of people that began showing up.

ESMA had brought with them a combination of grain, bran, maize and chaff for the horses. All the food was carefully overseen by a veterinary nurse with many years of experience dealing with equines, as grossly malnourished horses have exceptionally sensitive stomachs. The rule was one bucket of food for the horses most in need. The horse's condition was first assessed by the volunteers; there was simply not enough to feed all the animals that showed up. Feed was given to extreme cases to keep their horses alive for another two days. ESMA hopes to raise enough in donations to be able to return and bring more horses food. They are struggling greatly at the moment.

Throughout the day yesterday, volunteers fed approximately 450 horses. Hundreds more had to be turned away; even hours after the ESMA team had left stable owners were arriving in the hopes of garnering some food for their animals. Estimates put the total number of horses in the area directly around the pyramids at 3000 alone - this is not including other areas in Cairo that are also witnessing mass starvation of their animals.

Along with having no food for the animals, veterinary care was also absent. Stable owners brought horses to ESMA with open wounds on their back, obviously infected. When asked why they had not had these wounds treated by the government appointed vet assigned to each district in Cairo, their response was simple. The vet is meant to give subsidized medication for stable owners in Giza; vet checks are meant to be free of charge. Instead, the vet charges extortionate prices on medicine and veterinary check-ups, so much so that many of the stable owners are simple unable to cover the costs of getting their horses checked out.

I feel it is important to point out here that for many of the families who run the stables around the pyramids - as most are family owned business handed down through the generations - horse and camel rides are their only source of income. Many are under educated, still more have never left the confines of the city itself. These animals are their primary bread winners. Their very livelihood depends on them, and many still live in poverty. A great number of horses around the pyramids were already underweight before the revolution began; their time is truly running out.

One stable owner told his story, commenting on the loss of his animals. He said that this week alone, he "has lost five horses." His horses are normally fed three times a day; yet he has been unable to feed his animals for many days now. An ESMA volunteer commented on the horse "graveyard" they witnessed: "There were at least 50 carcasses, most of them in 'the bloated stage' and Beth informed me those were the ones that had died most recently.  We also found the carcasses of 3 camels, which we knew later from the owners had 'starved to death'.  The most distressing of all the dead animals were the dead foals lying next to their mothers..."

This terrible situation that stable owners are facing is not likely to end until the tourism market in Egypt picks up again. This could take months. These animals do not have that kind of time.

This is a call for help. This is our chance to help save the life of an animal, at least to ensure that it will be fed for one more day.

For information on where to send donations for ESMA, please contact me here. If you cannot donate financially, please donate your time and share this blog with as many people as you can. Please get the word out there for these animals - they need you.

Below find some more pictures from ESMA's day around the pyramids yesterday. Volunteers will continue to hit the streets every day this week, please act now to help save these animals.


Many horses were no more than skin and bone 

Stable's sent many starving horses

Stable owners lining up to get food for their animals

Dead mother and foal - victims of starvation 

Carcasses litter the streets

ESMA volunteers witnessed many horses being carted off


  1. This is really bad. This is a good initiative from your part to bring out this issue!

  2. @ Sailor, thanks, we're doing all we can at the moment!

    Nathan, thanks for asking. You can find information on donation on Esma's website, here's the link:

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