All over the developing world, animals support poor families. Donkeys and mules in particular are used to carry heavy loads and toil in the fields in blistering heat.
Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Refuge is a retirement home, orphanage and care centre for working equines in the foothills of the Atlas near Marrakech. They offer emergency medical care and sanctuary to the aged, disabled and abandoned donkey and mule. None of our donkeys or mules are ever tethered at Jarjeer. They enjoy real freedom for the first time in their lives! I and many others are proud to support them as they have become a hub of kindness and compassion bringing together the local community, staff, visitors and those in need both equine and human.
Since the start of the corona pandemic. Morocco closed its borders on March 26th. This had a devastating effect on the tourist trade leaving huge swathes of the population without income and fighting to survive. Working animals have poor owners and are being left abandoned to starve. This includes the caleche horses in Marrakech. Evidence is available on charity websites and in the press.
During the Covid-19 pandemic in Morocco many working equines (horses, donkeys and mules) are now being abandoned by their owners who can no longer afford to feed or care for them. Economic hardship is severe and for the owners the needs of their own families take priority. Many of these abandoned animals are suffering unimaginable pain while dying a slow death of thirst, starvation, injury and neglect. Often they are simply left by the side of the road or released on common land.
As one of the most dedicated, private animal charities in Morocco, Jarjeer Mule and Donkey Refuge in Marrakesh have arranged to take in as many as possible of these animals from all over the Kingdom but' as everybody recognises, the resources of Jarjeer are simply not sufficient in terms of space, manpower and funding. The numbers of abandoned animals across Morocco on a daily basis are overwhelming.
Often the animals are too sick and weak to tolerate and survive the journey to Marrakech. Local vets throughout the Kingdom have informed Jarjeer that they cannot euthanise an animal that has been abandoned unless there is some means to remove the animal from the location and then bury it in a manner that protects public health and safety.
We respectfully ask His Majesty the King of Morocco to use his powers and ensure that the Government makes every effort to ensure that local administrations, throughout the Kingdom, are able to provide veterinary care in such circumstances and arrange for veterinary services to have sufficient authority, equipment and financial resources to:
1. euthanise humanely and on site any suffering abandoned animal that cannot be saved, and
2. remove the body from the site of death to burial site on allocated common land in a manner that meets with public health and safety regulations.
Furthermore, we would urge His Majesty the King of Morocco to give any assistance possible to alleviate the suffering of the remaining caleche horses and help their owners restore them to full health so that they are in a fit state to resume work when tourism eventually recovers. Many of these horses are currently being kept barely alive in a serious state of neglect, squalor and near-starvation. These fabulous beasts are a huge asset to the Kingdom and provide a livelihood for their owners, but during the pandemic and the collapse of tourism, they cannot simply be ‘garaged’ and left unattended like a motor vehicle.
We, the supporters of Jarjeer Mules, have often enjoyed visiting and experiencing the beauty of Morocco and Marrakech in particular. As tourists, we have seen first-hand these majestic horses at work. We are deeply saddened and distressed by the current plight of the animals and their owners and the horrific conditions they are now in.
We know that Jarjeer Mules in Marrakech will continue to take in and care for those caleche horses that are strong enough to be helped, but it is no longer realistic for all suffering equines throughout the land to travel to the refuge in order only to be euthanised and then buried on private land that is already at its limits and already housing over 100 retired and sick equines."
The Save Morocco's Working Animals petition to His Majesty the King of Morocco was written by Katie Russell and is in the category Animal Rights at GoPetition.