The Giza Foundation







While the world follows the unfolding story of the people's fight for freedom in Egypt, little or no time has been devoted to the plight of animals there. As if their situation has not been bad enough, it has been worsened considerably in the last few weeks during the unrest. Owners, too poor to feed themselves have been unable to feed their animals and these have been starving. Animal charities and help organisations are doing all they can, but they are overwhelmed.


We have a special interest in the welfare of animals at Giza. We have been intimately involved every visit with cases where we have intervened to stop cruelty. For some time we wished to do something more permanant about the situation ourselves. The Giza Foundation has now been launched and will be active to support other established organisations, while taking its own initiatives to find long term solutions for many of the problems.


We are happy to lend our support also with a little publicity for others seeking the same better outcome.

We urge you to read the two following graphic reports from ESMA, The Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals, and you will get a flavour of horrors involved.




The Hysteria to grab feed for the horses........


From :

Katerina Lorenzatos Makris

Animal Policy Examiner


While the world watches for news of Egypt’s political future, smaller stories about the nation’s beleaguered animals emerge from the crisis.


There’s horror at the images of emaciated horses, camels, and donkeys normally used in Cairo’s tourism industry, now victims of the turmoil that has effectively stopped visitors from coming, and thus ended the source of income for the animals’ handlers, and the ability to feed them.


Many observers argue that Egypt’s beasts of burden endured miserable lives even before the uprising of January 25. Assuming that animal rescue groups manage to save them from starvation, and that tourism some day returns to this spectacular land of the pharoahs, will life improve for the country’s hard-worked, often neglected creatures?


Beth Sartain, a veterinary nurse and volunteer for Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), says her group is working toward just that goal.


In the first two parts of this article series,  Sartain described her encounter with looters who stole feed that she and other ESMA volunteers were delivering to starving horses.


Report from Beth Sartain


We set up a collection point and once again owners brought their horses. We checked owners’ ID, checked the horses and gave as much feed as we considered appropriate considering the condition of the horse.

Out of all the ESMA volunteers present yesterday I am the only one with any equine experience so I treated any wounds I saw as best I could.


Many of the ESMA volunteers stayed until late at night at our donation point. We have the backing of all the stable owners in the village and they know we will do all we can to help them.

Many came and personally apologised to me for the chaos of earlier in the day and the whole village is coming together to help us help them.


We now have a very good relationship with many owners there and we plan to continue our work after this crisis. We plan to help with education and it would be wonderful if we could introduce ESMA-approved riding stables were all horses are well cared for, fed and are ridden in well-fitting tack, etc.


This obviously is in the long term but we have set great foundations for ESMA and the horses of Egypt.

Beth Sartain, 16th February 2011

Member and volunteer at ESMA




From :


Horse rescuer in Egypt fends off looters then befriends them


Although Egyptian demonstrators succeeded in their goal of ousting President Hosni Mubarak, the country’s turmoil continues, taking its toll on animals as well as humans.


In a dramatic scene Tuesday, looters surrounded volunteers for the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA) and stole feed intended for starving horses.


In the first part of this article series,  ESMA volunteer and veterinary nurse Beth Sartain described how she stopped the assault.

Now read an account of her successful negotiation for the return of much of the stolen feed.



Members of an animal rescue group trying to help starving horses and camels in Cairo, Egypt report that looters surrounded their truck and stole bags of feed Tuesday.


However Beth Sartain, a veterinary nurse and volunteer with Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), says she stopped the assault by jumping into the horse-drawn carriage driven one of the mob and refused to get out until he and others listened to an explanation of ESMA’s mission.


Sartain’s description of the incident:


We drove into the village of Nazlet El Saman, with the truck in front of several cars of volunteers from ESMA. I was in the car directly behind the truck with Susie Nassar, one of the founding members of ESMA, and my two daughters who had come along to help.


People from the village on horseback had recognised us and had already started to follow the truck. When the truck slowed down to negotiate a speed bump the local people were so desperate to get feed for their animals they mobbed the truck.

There were dozens of men grabbing sacks of food and trying to ride off with it. I told my children to stay in the car with Susie and ran over to the truck.


I shouted at the men to stop taking the food as we were trying to help them. Some did stop but many didn't.

I noticed one man had loaded 3 sacks of food into his carriage. I was so angry I jumped into the carriage and sat on the food and told him if he wanted the food he would have to take me too.


He set off at a gallop down the road with me pleading with him to stop and trying to explain to him we wanted to offer long term help but couldn't if this was how we were treated.


He listened and stopped his horse. He shouted to many of his friends who were riding past with the stolen food to stop and they did.


They crowded around and listened to me as I explained that we were doing our best to help but we needed them to co-operate. The man I was with turned the carriage around and drove back to the place where the truck had been mobbed.


Word started to go around the village about what had happened. All the ESMA and I volunteers spent hours talking to people and visiting stables to explain our situation. The owners were desperate for help and saw that if they wanted long term help the food had to be returned to us.


While we were waiting for the food to be returned we all kept busy by treating wounds as best we could with limited medical supplies. We also arranged for a local farrier to attend one stable whose horses hooves were desperately in need of attention. The owner simply had no cash to pay the farrier. He trimmed 10 horses feet while we were there.


One of the ESMA volunteers is a homeopathic practitioner who administered as many remedies as she could to horses in need.

All the volunteers then returned to a central point in the village where people had been returning the feed too. Forty sacks were stolen from the truck in the morning. We received 28 sacks back by the afternoon and the stable owners, who did actually have enough food for their horses, then donated to us a further 26 sacks of food


They were also confident we will get more sacks returned as they now know we aim to help long-term.



Horses and camels starving in Egypt - animal protection groups race to save them


Every year tens of thousands of tourists who visit Egypt’s magnificent, millennia-old pyramids and tombs send home photos of themselves trotting along atop the horses and camels for rent at the sites. When the anti-government demonstrations paralyzed the country in January, tourism ended, and so did the rental fees for the animals’ owners, and thus so did the feed for the animals, according to local animal protection groups.


Many of the horses and camels photographed by and Animal Policy Examiner a during a trip to Egypt just a few weeks ago presumably are either dead or starving to death now.


Those beasts of burden—a literal term in this case—worked long and hard in less than optimal conditions even when things were “normal” in that historic, awe-inspiring, and beautiful nation. It’s disturbing to think about how much worse the animals’ lives have suddenly become.


A small army of volunteers from Egyptian animal protection groups are struggling—some working round the clock—to obtain feed and deliver it to as many as possible of the estimated thousands of starving horses and camels in the Cairo area.

For some of the animals they arrive too late, but for others, they perform rescue miracles.


Read a first-hand report on the situation from Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA). Policy Examiner visited, photographed, and took video at ESMA’s shelter for dogs and cats in November and has remained in close contact with the group throughout the recent turmoil.


The Disappearing lives of the Cats...


Cairo's Cats Forgotten as Its Humans Rebel


Trying to reach Cairo's Tahrir Square through clouds of tear gas and volleys of rubber bullets, Egyptian TV anchor Mona Khalil was forced by the tumult into a side street. There, she remembers, "I saw cats running, running, running and trying to get into houses or staircases or buildings, and some of them were really gasping." Two kittens had found shelter under a car. She managed to take them inside a building, away from the toxic fumes. Others were not so lucky. "Going back later I found two cats that were lying on their sides, dead," she adds. For Khalil, 43, who is one of the leaders of Egypt's fledgling animal-rights movement, the incident had particular resonance. It was, she said, "the first slap in the face that, oh my God, those streets are filled with cats and dogs."


While the world has focused on the many troubles faced by humans during the 18-day uprising, the four-legged residents of Cairo have been left to fend for themselves. Many Egyptians, expats and tourists have been forced by authorities to flee the country without their pets; zoos and pet shops were also abandoned. The chaos of the uprising put a tremendous strain on the nation's largest animal-rights organization, the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), for which Khalil serves as treasurer. "It's very common to see stray cats and dogs on the street, but not for us to see [abandoned] Persians and Siamese," she says.


"This is a very brave group of Egyptians that are really forging a new path," says Chicago-based Kristen Stilt, the only non-Egyptian board member of ESMA. "They want a better future for their country, and they think that just like in [other] countries, animal welfare is an important issue." Stilt, who has a Ph.D. in Islamic legal history from Harvard and teaches law and history at Northwestern, explains that ESMA and organizations like it face an uphill battle because of Egypt's troubling cultural attitudes toward animals. The group was founded in 2007 in response to a spree of shootings of stray dogs carried out by the Egyptian government, a brutal method of population control.


Although Islam prescribes strong protections for animals, Stilt wrote in her book Animal Welfare in Islamic Law that "it has become normal to see young boys running after a small dog or pitiful cat and throwing rocks at the poor creature, or tying up the puppy and dragging him by the rope." She continued, "They may even continue with this torture until they kill the animal. It is even more common to see an emaciated donkey (or mule or horse) pulling a heavy cart through the streets of Cairo, and the driver of the cart has whipped the donkey so badly that he has bleeding sores."


 (See pictures of the real-life Hotel for Dogs.)


American writer Gwen Cooper, author of the best-selling Homer's Odyssey, a memoir about her blind cat, says she was tipped off about ESMA by an Egyptian fan on Homer's busy Facebook page. She contacted the organization and immediately decided to enlist other animal lovers to help.


"There are people who have been forced to abandon their pets in all the turmoil," she says. "People who don't care about animals at all may not get it. But people who do understand that it's like having to leave a family member behind." She should know. Cooper was living blocks from Ground Zero on September 11, 2001, and her cats were trapped alone for days.


Since she has been writing about ESMA and the Egyptian animal situation on Homer's Facebook and Twitter pages (he has 20,000 friends and followers), she says, "I've gotten hundreds of responses from people who have made donations, who are helping to spread the word themselves and posting it on their own Facebook pages or retweeting it."


So much of what Westerners know about Egypt is animal related, from riding camels around the Pyramids to studying the worship of cats in Pharaonic times. The recent political turmoil has revealed many deep-rooted, previously overlooked problems in that country, the plight of its animals not the least among them.


"A couple of people have asked me why they should care about animals all the way in Egypt," says Cooper. "My response has been to say that animals aren't citizens of countries. They're citizens of our hearts, and our hearts have no borders."




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