By: Engy Mohamed
We’ve always known the animal rights scene in Egypt to be on the lower half of our scale of priorities, but at what point do we realize that we have left this issue to rot for so long that it has fallen off the edge and slipped into oblivion?
We have waited long enough for people to decide that the only solution for getting rid of stray dogs is to poison them or slaughter them in the cruelest of ways. That our own filth is a good enough food source for the animals that litter our neighborhoods, and that there’s nothing we can do about the animals whose mangled bodies end up on the sidewalk just because they weren’t fast enough to cross the street.
That being said, it is no secret that the lives of animals in Egypt are often seen as a nuisance if not completely disregarded.
For that reason, we got in touch with Egyptian TV anchor and chairperson of Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), Mona Khalil, whom we’ve had the chance to speak to about the current state of animal welfare, in addition to the kind of efforts that are taking effect in this regard. “The animal rights movement in Egypt is in progress; it is better than how it used to be 5 years ago, and definitely far better than it was 10 years ago,” Khalil said.
“The introduction of article 45 in the Egyptian constitution, which stipulates that the government must care for all animal environments, is kind of a success for the animal rights movement. However, it is not implemented or executed through any effective laws,” she added. With that said, it is comforting to an extent to know that the government is taking the issue into consideration; however, laws are unlikely to hold enough value unless they are adequately put into motion.
On the bright side, Khalil acknowledges the surge in awareness among social media communities; “There is much more awareness among people today; (there are) animal groups that are active right now on social media, dedicated to finding people who share the same cause and are willing to communicate together to achieve a common goal or discuss a common interest, and that’s animals.”
Despite the fact that not all existing online animal groups are necessarily active, Khalil believes the increase in general concern does a lot to help raise awareness for the cause.
Interestingly enough, Khalil reveals that animal welfare is not actually witnessing a decline. In fact, the reason why we’re hearing about animal rights violations more often is that there is an increased focus on the issue. “The focus on animal issues right now is revealing much more than what some people initially knew about animal welfare in the past,” Khalil explains.
We move on to ask the animal rights advocate about what possible measures that could be taken in order to limit the presence of animals around the streets, to which she replies: “The only means to control the issue of stray animals is first to get the environment cleaner, deal with the amount of garbage on the streets, and TNR; trap, neuter, and release.
Sterilization and neutering of animals is the only effective, scientific and humane solution. Otherwise, this problem will never be solved.”
More importantly, Khalil mentions the importance of taking zoo and circus animals into consideration; “Our heightened awareness has allowed us to see that the issue is not merely limited to street animals, but also wildlife, slaughter houses, zoos and circuses, irresponsible owners, pet shops, health issues…etc. These are all concerns that we have recently come into focus.”
The increase in awareness is a valuable asset that we could use to our advantage. Once animal rights become a matter of public concern, numerous measures can finally be taken, getting us closer to fixing this issue, one step at a time.
In spite of that, the first step will be to always acknowledge that no life is worth more than another. That animals feel and suffer just as much as humans do. After all, the least they deserve is to live out their life spans within a nurturing and safe environment.