LAST UPDATED: 2 February 2021
It's an understatement to say we are living in strange and uncertain times.
Collectively, we're finding our feet in a new world, and striving to create a 'new normal'. But as communities and governments around the globe pull out all the stops to help people through the pandemic, there is another group who is also deeply impacted by the fallout of COVID-19 — animals.
COVID-19's animal victims
The global shutdown of the tourist trade has had enormous implications for animals in many countries. Horses and elephants subjected to the daily labour of carrying tourists for 'rides' or transport became 'collateral damage', as these industries ground to a halt. Some have faced days or months chained, others sold off or faced starvation as owners became unable to feed them.
The feeding and care of animals in captive facilities in many countries is also dependent on tourist income and we actively investigated where conditions and care had deteriorated. Across many countries there has been a concern for animals living on the streets whose ability to survive was dependent on tourists, scraps from now-closed restaurants or locals now in lock-down.
Compassion in action — globally
Even amidst the very challenging situation this global pandemic presents, there are caring people everywhere working day and night to help animals.
Thanks to the generosity of Animals Australia's dedicated and compassionate supporters, funds from our Emergency Grants program have reached animals in need the world over.
While the implications of this global event continue to unfold, our commitment to help animals who need it is stronger than ever.
One of the many benefits of our international work is the relationships we've built. We've had first-hand insight into the remarkable work of local advocates, often in the most difficult of circumstances.
So while borders have been closed and travel restricted, we've been reaching out to these trusted international colleagues to get assessments of how animals are being impacted in their countries — and how we can help.
It's clear that COVID-19 has added another huge layer of challenges for animal protection and rescue groups. They are desperately trying to find ways to continue to provide for animals in their care while also helping animals impacted by the virus.
Determined to help these groups and support the dedicated animal advocates that have continued to work for animals despite the most challenging circumstances, we developed our rapid-response Emergency Grants program.
These Emergency Grants were introduced at a critical time -- when income sources for animal rescue and protection groups had been significantly reduced, or stopped altogether.
The support of Animals Australia donors has been helping some of these brave and compassionate animal advocates in the following ways:
- Assisting our veterinary team on the ground in Indonesia, who provided much-needed care to homeless animals and have worked with groups on the ground to run feeding programs to ensure that animals on the streets are fed.
- Supporting working donkeys, horses and bulls in Indonesia and North Africa, to ensure that local projects have funding to continue to care for them at a time when their owners may be without income.
- Helping ensure that the hundreds of elephants within 'riding' camps in Thailand are being fed, and positive education programs encouraging more ethical models of tourism can continue.
- Contributing to help feed the millions of street animals who rely solely on the kindness of strangers for their meals, as groups on the ground ensure that they are still fed during lockdowns in Lebanon, Palestine and India.
- Establishing an emergency fund for animal rescue groups in Australia affected by COVID-19.
Our Emergency Grants program has seen funds channeled directly to organisations across the world — in Indonesia (Villa Kitty, Horses of Gili, Gili Eco Trust, Jakarta Animal Aid Network, Bali Street Dog Support), India (Wildlife SOS, Help in Suffering, Animal Aid Unlimited, Friendicoes), Nepal (Voice of Animals Nepal), Philippines (Compassion and Responsibility for animals Philippines), Palestine (Palestinian Animal League), Australia (Animals Aid Abroad and a range of rescue organisations through our Pet Rescue grants), Cambodia (Save Elephant Foundation / Elephant Nature Park, Wildlife Alliance, Free the Bears), Lebanon (Animals Lebanon) , Uruguay (Animales Sin Hogar), Colombia (Fundación Bioparque La Reserva, Fundación Caridad Animal) Egypt (Egypt Equine Aid) and Tanzania (Tanzania Animal Welfare Society).
Despite the uncertainty and the fear associated with a global pandemic, the courage and compassion of brave and dedicated advocates across the world continues to ensure that animals are not forgotten. Thank you to all those who have helped us to ensure that their vital work for animals can continue during this time.