Having grown from a sleepy fishing village to a bustling city in a matter of decades, Hurghada has become one of Egypt’s most popular tourist destinations for domestic and foreign visitors. Not all the city’s residents are reaping the benefits however.
In July the municipal governor issued a decree ordering the confiscation of all working animals on the streets, which were deemed unattractive to tourists. Among these were donkeys rented by people in the city to pull rubbish collection carts.
Twenty-six donkeys, three horses and eight camels were subsequently confiscated and sent to local NGO Blue Moon Animal Centre, run by Swiss national Monique Carrera. She raised concerns the government wasn’t supplying enough food, but there was more to come. The city’s Governmental Veterinary Unit stated the animals posed a health threat to humans because they were ill and decided they should be euthanized or sent to the zoo.
After being alerted by a local animal activist, The Donkey Sanctuary’s partner organisation The Egyptian Society for the Protection and Welfare of Working Animals (ESPWWA) chairman Dr Abel Keshk and Dr Howida headed to Hurghada to try to save the animals.
Their efforts proved fruitful. After a meeting with the head of the General Organisation for Veterinary Service, Dr Ibrahim Mahrous, it was agreed the decision to euthanize would be suspended. Mahrous also agreed to allow a team from ESPWWA led by Dr Shaaban to assess the animals and help advise on what should be done with them.
Dr Shaaban’s team did a welfare assessment on the donkeys and found many to be in very poor condition. Most had beating wounds, bite wounds from other donkeys and were dull and listless. Having been fed mostly sugar cane, many had dental problems too. Seven were deemed too ill to work again. The donkeys were given treatment and access to food and have now been returned to their owners.
The plight of the Hurghada donkeys highlights the difficulties when working animals are suddenly deprived of their work. They have had a narrow escape and we will continue to monitor their situation.