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World Animal Day Grant awarded to: The Kurdistan Organisation for Animal Rights Protection (KOARP)

We are delighted to inform you that this year’s winner is Dr Sulaiman Tameer Saeed who has been a World Animal Day Ambassador since 2010.

This is the third consecutive year that Naturewatch Foundation has sponsored a special grant which is restricted to applications from our team of 92 World Animal Day Ambassadors around the world.

Sulaiman is a vet and saviour for Kurdistan’s animals. He, with a dedicated team of professionals, founded The Kurdistan Organisation for Animal Rights Protection (KOARP) - the only registered animal protection NGO in Kurdistan. 

About the project and why it’s needed

The mountainous land of Kurdistan in northern Iraq has been torn apart by war.  At the hands of successive regimes, the Kurdish people have suffered many years of persecution and bloodshed - but, after decades of dictatorship, they are finally beginning to benefit from living in a democratic society, enjoying freedom of speech and respect of their human rights.

Sadly, the same cannot be said about the region’s animals. Their welfare has been largely disregarded, especially in markets, pet shops, zoos and abattoirs. Most animals are ill-treated, abused and suffer a life of misery at the hands of people who lack the knowledge of how to care for them properly.

In Kurdistan the concept of animal welfare is in its infancy – with no laws in place to protect livestock, pets or wild animals from harm, and knowledge of how to treat animals humanely almost non-existent. But you can help change this by supporting a broad-ranging education programme that will reach thousands of people who make their living from working with animals. 

The region’s government is committed to meeting the needs of ALL who call Kurdistan home, but to do this they need our help. Now is the perfect time to implement an education programme as Kurdistan is currently witnessing tremendous political, economic and social change.  The fact that it’s still developing means they’re at a stage where the people are optimistic and keen to learn, and the possibilities for improving animal welfare standards are huge.

We have an ideal opportunity to help create a brighter future for Kurdistan’s animals - a future where they too are respected and treated with compassion. Please lend your support to Kurdistan’s animals by making a donation today

Domestic and wild animals

Many people make a living by trading in domestic and wild animals. Some are bred in captivity and others are captured from the wild to sell in markets and pet shops. But the traders do not have the knowledge to care for them properly and have no idea of species-specific needs.  For them, trading animals is simply the way they make a living!

Wild animals such as young wolves, bears, foxes, squirrels, turtles, vultures, falcons and partridges are traded, and this is fuelled by the ‘competition’ of owning the most exotic animal.  Sulaiman’s team will work to end the hunting and trading of wild animals, while also raising public awareness on the importance of the role of wild animals in protecting the country’s ecological balance.  

Zoo animals*

Shamefully, there are privately-owned zoos in Kurdistan but they are not regulated, resulting in animals being kept in appalling conditions and neglected of professional care. 

Little or no concern is shown for the wellbeing or psychological state of the animals.  Confinement, boredom, removal from their pack or kin, and an environment incompatible with the habits of their species, cause the animals distress, illness and can even lead to a painful death.    

These poor animals live a life of grief, misery and severe discomfort in tiny, bare, filthy concrete cells. Animals pace up and down from frustration – no exercise and no stimulation equals mind-numbing boredom.  

The animals are also undernourished, suffer constant ill-treatment, and many live in solitude, sitting quietly and scared in a disturbingly sad atmosphere with no sign of life in their eyes - a living hell for pack animals. Whatever the future holds for Kurdistan’s private zoos, in the meantime we will help these poor innocent creatures. The zoo workers know no better but you can help change that.

* The zoo project is yet to be confirmed as it’s subject to the involvement of an expert advisor and funds being available.  

Abattoirs

The inhumane treatment of animals in abattoirs is another issue particularly close to Sulaiman’s heart. In 1974 the Iraqi military destroyed his village. His father took the family to the city and opened a butcher’s shop. From the age of 8 years old, Sulaiman spent time in these places witnessing what goes on. He is greatly ashamed of the horrific way the poor animals are treated and the fact that operatives aren’t trained – they simply copy their co-workers, perpetuating awful practices.

Sulaiman sent us a video taken inside one of Kurdistan’s abattoirs. The treatment of the animals brought tears to our eyes instantly.

It’s the same story - the abattoir workers know no better. Without guidance, training, or laws in place to protect these animals from appalling slaughterhouse conditions, their final moments are terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Sulaiman has a plan to teach these impoverished workers a better way, raising their skills at the same time as improving animal welfare conditions.

Alongside the projects this grant will support, Sulaiman and his team will continue to:

  • Provide a 24 hour emergency veterinary service.
  • Conduct a school education programme to nurture compassion and empathy for animals in the hearts of the younger generation.
  • Help stop the illegal hunting of wild animals.
  • Educate the general public about the proper care of animals.
  • Work with MPs to introduce animal protection legislation.  

As you can see, there’s a mountain of work to be done but, with your help, the Kurdistan Organisation for Animal Rights Protection has started to climb that mountain and are committed to improving the lives of region's animals. 

Read about the educational programme funded by the 2016 World Animal Day grant.