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Working animals are still being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is having a lasting, catastrophic impact on working animals across the globe. In Tanzania and Zimbabwe, for example, our teams are expecting imminent food shortages and are concerned that thousands of working animals will starve.
Emir ferries tourists around the bustling streets of Marrakech, pulling a heavy taxi carriage known as a ‘calèche’. One of 500 calèche horses that normally work through the heat of the day in the city, Emir makes just enough money for his owner Jalil to support his family.
In March 2020, life changed dramatically for Emir and Jalil and the rest of the Marrakech calèche horses and owners. When the city went into lockdown, its busy souks (markets) became eerily quiet and deserted. Along the road that is usually full of people and carts, there was no one. With no tourists to serve, Emir and Jalil can’t work. And with no work, there’s not enough money for families to feed themselves or their hardworking animals. Horses like Emir are starving and have been let loose to graze and wander the winding souks, desperately searching for food.
Before Covid-19, Morocco was already facing an awful drought. Now, there’s nothing for starving working animals to eat. Calèche horses are resorting to eating plastic bags when they graze on rubbish.
Horses like Emir can’t vomit, so if they eat plastic or toxic chemicals, or if something gets stuck in their gut, it can be life threatening. When Jalil noticed that Emir had become constipated and was losing his appetite, he grew worried. Emir’s condition deteriorated rapidly. Soon he was lying on his side in extreme pain, rolling around to alleviate the discomfort. Emir was clearly in agony. In a time of complete lockdown, he needed urgent veterinary treatment.