Work dries up for Jordan’s donkeys as coronavirus cripples tourism – Times of India

PETRA, Jordan: Herds of onerous-working donkeys as soon as carried hordes of vacationers on the rocky paths of Jordan’s Petra, however customer numbers crashed amid the pandemic and the loyal animals are left with no job.
“Before coronavirus, we all had work,” mentioned Abdulrahman Ali, a 15-yr-outdated donkey proprietor on the historical rock-carved desert metropolis, the place the positive-footed animals carry vacationers up steep paths within the blazing solar.
“The Bedouins of Petra made a living and fed their animals,” he mentioned, sitting ready for a handout of fodder from a charity, explaining that many homeowners at the moment are struggling to fulfill the associated fee of feeding them.
In 2019, the quantity of guests to the UNESCO World Heritage web site topped one million for the primary time.
But in March 2020, the well-known vacationer vacation spot was closed, and the essential revenue from the vacationers dried up.
“When tourism stopped, nobody could buy fodder or medicine anymore,” mentioned Ali, who might earn as a lot as $280 on a superb day, supporting his mom and two brothers.
“Anyone who has a little amount of money now spends it on his own food, not his animal.”
Before the pandemic, tourism made up greater than a tenth of Jordan’s GDP, however revenues slumped from $5.8 billion in 2019 to $1 billion final yr, in accordance with authorities figures.
Since Petra reopened in May, vacationer numbers have been sluggish to rebound.
Only some 200 guests a day come to Petra, in comparison with greater than 3,000 earlier than the pandemic hit, mentioned Suleiman Farajat, heading the Petra Development and Tourism Regional Authority.
Farajat mentioned some 200 guides used as many as 800 animals — together with horses, camels and mules as properly as donkeys — for vacationer rides throughout the desert web site.
The financial ripple impact of tourism was widespread.
“Before the crisis, 80 percent of the inhabitants of the region depended directly or indirectly on tourism,” Farajat mentioned.
“With the pandemic, not only working animal owners were affected, but also hotels, restaurants, those with souvenir shops or stores, and hundreds of employees have lost their jobs.”
Many donkey house owners are turning to a clinic supported by the animal rights group PETA, the place vets deal with maltreated and malnourished donkeys for free.
“Before coronavirus, my family and I owned seven donkeys working in Petra,” mentioned Mohammad al-Badoul, 23, ready with 4 different donkey house owners to fill a sack with animal feed.
“We had to sell them for lack of income. Now we only have one, and I can barely feed it.”
Egyptian vet Hassan Shatta, an equine surgical procedure specialist who runs the PETA clinic, mentioned he launched a donkey-feeding programme late final yr.
“During the Covid-19 lockdown, and with the lack of tourism, people could not afford to feed their animals anymore,” Shatta mentioned.
“Some of them ended up starving and we picked them up brought them here,” he added, noting some 250 animals had been handled, with some 10-15 circumstances arriving a day.
In the previous, PETA had handled animals with deep cuts from being crushed or abused, however Farajat, from Petra’s tourism authority, says the working circumstances of the donkeys is now “not that bad”.
But there are plans to interchange some of the normal donkeys with a brand new system of 20 electrical vehicles launched by the tourism board subsequent month.
The vehicles will likely be “driven by the animal owners,” Farajat mentioned.
Switching to electrical vehicles will, Farajat hopes, put an finish to the criticisms towards the mistreatment inflicted on animals.

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