The imposing city of Petra carved into rock is Jordan's main tourist magnet and an attraction in the wider region. Due to the extensive site and temperatures of over 40 degrees centigrade, many tourists prefer to ride through the ruins on donkeys or horses. Around 1,350 donkeys and and horses are kept in Petra for this purpose. As we established during our first visit, conditions were not in accordance with animal welfare. We responded immediately and launched an aid project together with our partner organisation, the Princess Alia Foundation (PAF), and the Petra tourism authority (PDTRA) in order to help the working horses and donkeys as fast as possible.
Stables, veterinary treatment and education
In 2015, we started building stables for the horses, donkeys and mules in which they are protected from the sun and have a place to rest. We also installed a water drainage system to prevent the annual destruction of stable constructions through heavy rainfall. Alongside these urgently needed measures, we began to train the animals' owners jointly with our partners in appropriate hoof care, feeding and general equestrian care. In addition, a FOUR PAWS team flies to Petra at least once a year in order to provide veterinary treatment. Just one year later, we saw first positive results: all the animals were in a much better state of health.
Through generous donors in Jordan, several of the old carriages were replaced with new and much lighter ones. These carriages help to protect the health of the horses and donkeys, especially by easing their backs. Thanks to the support of the 'Robert Cave Memorial Fund' we were also able to distribute new harnesses that offer reliable protection from injury. Thanks also go to the PAF who helped with this initiative.
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Successful interventions for the equines in Petra, Jordan!
Together with the local vets at the equine clinic, Prof. Aburtabush (equine specialist), Dr. Abed (vet from the Royal Stables) and Dr. Zain (PAF) we managed to treat, rasp, de-worm and x-ray more than 50 horses within three days. Apart from that, Robert Hengl (Head of Competence Centre Horses at FOUR PAWS) and Dr Zain had a positive meeting with Dr. Suleiman Farajad, chief commissioner of the Petra Development Tourism and Region Authority (PDTRA). Points of discussion were short and long-term plans for the project.
Last but not least, in cooperation with the PDTRA, horse owners, local vets, and horse handlers were trained in an identification and tagging system based on the usage of microchips. They learnt where and how these are to be inserted, and how they are scanned and read properly. This common practice still has to be implemented in this region.