Morocco’s carriage horses suffer as COVID-19 bars tourists

Yahoo News:

MARRAKECH, Morocco (AP) — Abdenabi Nouidi sold his favorite horse for $150 to help feed the others on the team that pulls tourists in carriages through the buzzing streets of Marrakech. The prospect of starvation looms for carriage horses and other animals normally used in Morocco’s tourist mecca. Visitors have vanished during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad, or SPANA, says hundreds of Morocco’s carriage horses and donkeys are threatened amid the collapsing tourism industry. They are among the estimated 200 million horses, donkeys, camels and elephants worldwide providing various livelihoods for over a half-billion people.

The North African kingdom closed its doors to outsiders after the first virus case was confirmed March 2. It recently issued a ban on domestic travel to eight cities, including Marrakech.

Thousands of people depend on the carriage horses for their livelihood. A single horse carriage in Marrakech supports four to five families, including owners, drivers and stable boys, carriage driver Abdeljalil Belghaoute said.

He spoke from his carriage, waiting in a line near the famed Jamaa El Fnaa square, hoping that someone would want a ride.

‘If you have a shop, you can close it. If you sell goods, you store them. But imagine having … horses who need to eat, drink and get medical care,” said Abdeljalil Nouidi.

He spoke from his carriage, waiting in a line near the famed Jamaa El Fnaa square, hoping that someone would want a ride.

‘If you have a shop, you can close it. If you sell goods, you store them. But imagine having … horses who need to eat, drink and get medical care,” said Abdeljalil Nouidi.

For two decades, the four Nouidi brothers have taken tourists on sightseeing jaunts in horse-drawn carriages. Now they have empty pockets and mouths to feed, both at home and at the rundown complex outside Marrakech where drivers stable their horses.

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