Translate

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Jordania (Kingdom of Jordan)

Unfortunately due to what I thought at the time was a flat battery, but later turned out to be a terminally damaged camera, I was unable to retrieve pictures from the trip. I will include internet images (if available) of anything I found similar with my visit to Jordan. Apologies.

As always, I started my process with the obligatory google research. I try to limit the opinions I read so as not to arrive with preconceived ideas but research more-so to ensure I can logistically organise where I'm going and to finance the trip. However, on this occasion when inputting, "Kingdom of Jordan animal welfare" into google I was amazed that the first few pages were dedicated to "Humane Centres" and "Animal Rights Awareness groups" etc. I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised. Here seemed to be a country, sorry Kingdom, that had a sound knowledge and responsible standing on the humane treatment of animals. Not only was it part of the Kingdoms law, but it was endorsed by Royalty. None other than the King of Jordan, King Abdullah II, his wife, Queen Rani, the Kings sister, Princess Alia (who also appears to have a foundation dedicated to animals, at least named in her honour) and a list of other royal signatories. Hallelujah! This was going to be a good news story, a visit that was going to reinstate my faith in humanity. A chance to reset my chi, as it were. 

Unfortunately what I witnessed once I arrived was something of a polar opposite to what I read about on the internet. Shortly after leaving the airport I was unfortunate enough to see a grossly overburdened donkey being whipped to continue forward movement. Its hind legs quivering under the extreme load of what appeared to be used bricks. A solitary case surely? Only 2 minutes further I witnessed a young boy selling puppies on the roadside. Holding them in his small hand, offering them to passing traffic for purchase. 

Lunch at a small eatery nearby to my hotel in the bustling city of Amman was interrupted by a veritable parade of street dogs and cats, squabbling over any scrap that fell from the mouths or plates of patrons, seemingly each animal with some form of defect or another.
On my way to visit the Roman ruins (yes, Amman has Roman ruins, fascinating to see) known as The Citadel I enjoyed the sights and sounds and smells that seem consistent with all Middle Eastern countries. I passed a number of shops selling pet fish and birds of all descriptions. I got talking (as best I could with his limited English) to one very happy, helpful and proud Jordanian man. I explained that I was in Amman to write a story on the treatment of animals around the world. As soon as he heard and understood the word animal he motioned to his young assistant to come quickly. Before I knew what was happening I was whisked off up a lane way, through the rear of another shop to a house (?) at the rear. A multitude of caged puppies (and nursing bitches) were pointed at as arabic words were shouted at me. What could only be described as a "puppy farming operation" laid before me. I shrugged in apology that I couldn't understand what the young man was trying to convey. Off we went again, upstairs, caged, chained monkeys of all descriptions were led to me. More (what looked like) puppies in a box were offered up, "hyena, hyena" the boy said, pointing to the box. It was time for me to leave. I'd seen enough.


My next day was a planned tour to Petra, a place that had long been on my to-do list. The early start was refreshing as was the cold Jordan climate. Unfortunately I slept on the bus and missed much of the countryside but woke to the most beautiful "dessert-like" scenery as we neared our goal. The walk into Petra is a long, arduous slog, something they forget to mention in the brochure. Opportunistic businessmen (and ladies) have capitalised on this by providing a horse, donkey or camel back journey into the "treasury site". The animals were extremely poorly maintained, skinny beasts. People of ALL sizes were catered for at the cost of the animals strength and posture. YouTube has many posts of overweight/obese people riding small donkeys up the seriously steep inclined stairways, including some where people on foot get quite passionate at those exploiting the animal service. 
Unfortunately this was also the case upon my visit to the Dead Sea. Camels and horses exploited for money. Entrepreneur businessmen charging tourists for photo opportunities and rides on their poorly maintained animals. An over worked camel that refused to rise when a group of children clambered onboard its back was yanked (by a rope through its nose) and whipped as it bellowed in defiant disagreement at its handler.


My next day was a less formally structured one. A self paced drive through the outer-city streets. Sheep and goats of all denominations were witnessed for sale, penned in small roadside stalls, devoid of any food or water. Men offered me the opportunity to buy the animal at my own selection and also the service of slaughtering and cutting the animal into manageable chunks, roadside. Chicken shops (no not fried, live!) seemed to be regularly spotted throughout every small town. Sick, injured, weak and in some cases featherless birds crammed into cages for the remainder of their life before being turned into the local delicacy of chicken mansouf. 

My 10 day stay in Jordan was starting to seem like it was bound to be an excessively long and torturous stay. Where were the good news stories that I read about? I decided to consult google again and seek out something positive.

 I read numerous stories of the collaboration between Princess Alia (or The Princess Alia Foundation) and the Australian Government in the renovation and improvements to Jordanian slaughterhouses (many sheep and cows are delivered from Australia to Jordan by ship). I decided to visit the largest in Amman. Referred to as the Greater Amman Municipal slaughterhouse it was situated in the densely populated city centre. A strange location for what (in most countries) would be a "dirty business". The Greater Amman Municipal slaughterhouse was a buzz with people and trucks. From sticking my head inside the slaughterhouse door I could see that meat consumption was obviously big business in Jordan. What must have been hundreds of sheep and cows were hanging from rails, the floor red with blood and bins overfilling with the disused innards. I witnessed ritual-like slaughter of sheep, man power holding the animal down as another man cut across its neck following a shout to the Islamic God, Allah. A high tech conveyor-looking device was to one side, unused as sheep were dragged out of a steel constructed alley leading from the back area. As I passed a larger door I saw men scrambling as an animal had somehow escaped the holding pens and was running rampage in the area where the animals are obviously normally killed and skinned. One "brave" butcher dispatched of it by slicing its neck with a razor sharp knife and the animal slumped to the ground to cheers from frightened onlooking butchers. One positive was that I noticed a large stunning device hanging above what seemed to be a relatively well kept steel box for catching the large cows. Unfortunately not used on this occasion. Other previously dispatched animals lie motionless on the floor in pools of blood. The door was shut in front of me. Hygiene was non existent! As i rounded the corner I saw a chicken slaughterhouse. One look inside showed that this was not part of the animal welfare improvements discussed in the media articles on google. I glanced inside but upon seeing a man swinging a chicken by its head, I couldn't force myself to view anymore. Passing a large truck, men were seen to be aggressively unloading helpless sheep from within it using homemade sticks fashioned with nails. Where does it stop? As i made my way back to the car I witnessed what was obviously the town wholesale meat market, burly men seemed to auction off animal carcasses in a total disorganised confusion. Refrigeration containers not used as meat lay out on cardboard flooring in the open air, I started to question food hygiene and decided on packet noodles for the remainder of my stay.


I struggled to locate a zoo at the address that I copied down previously so it was back to my trusted smart phone for another google fact-finding mission. I visited 2 zoos (if you can call them that). Absolutely despicable displays of animal husbandry faced me. Cement enclosures. No enrichment of any form. 5 freedoms seemed a fairytale at this point and I jokingly thought to myself that these animals would be satisfied with 1 freedom to start with. Zoo keepers asking for donations. Zoo keepers offering other (obviously middle eastern men) the opportunity to buy monkeys and big cat cubs. Haggling ensued between the seller and buyer and humorously between other sellers (keepers). Once the 3 locally dressed men left I approached the keeper pretending to be interested in a similar purchase. He was wary and told me he didn't deal in it directly but his brother did. He pointed me in the direction of advertisements on my phone once more. [SB attach screen capture]


My new friend and guide, Mohammed (keeper) followed me throughout the zoo for the remainder of my stay, taking every opportunity to update me on animal/zoo facts and statistics. He told me that the big cats (long time favourites of mine) are regularly given "live kills" of dairy bull calves and roosters from his employers dairy and chicken farms. Animals deemed unprofitable or unwanted [presumed]. When I asked if he could deliver a lion cub to my home in Saudi Arabia (lie) he commented "no problem, it will be done. My boss he has good relations with border guards". It seems animal trading is alive and well in the Kingdom of Jordan. Mohammed stuck his hand out for his "tour-guide" tip!

I decided to cut the remainder of my visit short and head home before my disappointment in humanity spilled into the depths of irreversible depression. Jordan is a Kingdom full of beauty, wonder, tradition and culture but undoubtedly one of the worst displays of animal exploitation, pain and suffering that I have seen.

Before leaving I researched more about the structure of Jordans' government and its agriculture department. It seems, for all the goodwill messages from the King himself down, regarding the treatment of animals, The Jordanian government nor the Jordanian Royal Family do not even employ an animal welfare adviser within its department of agriculture nor  do they have trust and confidence in the capabilities of their "agriculture police" to fight off the advances of corruption and exploitation.

Next step from me is a letter to his royal highness voicing my disappointment.

Shame Jordan shame. Such a disappointing visit for all the hype.

26 comments:

  1. This is the noise of me scratching Jordania off of my list of places to visit!
    __________________________________

    ReplyDelete
  2. Linked to me by a well-travelled friend. Glad I stopped by. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is disturbing.

    This is a common problem in many Middle East countries.

    ReplyDelete
  4. THAT POOR DONKEY

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thats one FAT arse on one SKINNY ass!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks to you for the time and dedication involved in the investigation of animal treatment throughout the world. I have been a long time supporter of groups who assist in the eradication of animal exploitation for personal entertainment. I have only recently stumbled across your blog but have forwarded the link to my extensive groups of like-minded friends. Lets get the spotlight shone on these countries that take an ostrich approach to animal welfare and animal rights. I have been unable to find a button to send you private mail but would be keen to financially support your group as a way of thanking you for your efforts in this important matter. Please reply to this comment with a suitable contact address.
    Marg Banal, Male, Maldives.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Marg. Thank you for your interest, comment and offer for assistance. I am not affiliated with any 1 particular group (although I am a member of many). It was always my intention that this was a personal journey for me. The blog was not always part of my plan. I only recently made my blog public and have received much interest and views since doing so. I appreciate the time people take in reading my posts and will attempt to add small pieces more frequently. Although I appreciate your offer whole-heartedly, I would graciously decline the offer and encourage you to forward the funds to an animal charity of your choosing. Thanks again for your kind words and I encourage you to continue in the fight for animal rights in which ever way available to you.
    Seth Baker

    ReplyDelete
  8. Did you alert the government body that manages the animal welfare in the region? You do good highlighting the problems does anything positive come of your effort?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anonymous, I wish I could say that something positive comes from my visits and blog documentation, unfortunately this is difficult for me to measure. I (as yet) have not returned to any of the countries I have visited due to financial constraints. I also did not manage to find the necessary people to contact in Jordan specifically (I did in Qatar and Kuwait, but received only receipt of my letter and had very broad and diplomatic replies from Indonesia and Thailand) and on further investigation via the internet I made the assumption that Jordania does not have a person or department dedicated to animal welfare which was unfortunate. My hope is that through awareness and public discussion change will come.
      Thanks to you for your interest and comment. Seth Baker

      Delete
    2. Patricia Madi4 April 2013 01:47

      Am am cofounder of one of the Animal NGO's here Canaan Rescue Jordan - Malath and have to say that from all groups, many efforts have been done to address the government .... no interest no action..... hate towards animals is here a widespread understanding ...... On April 1, we had an other mass shooting by the municipality - at least 60 puppies and dogs had been killed.It goes one bullit per dog, if it kills fine, if not .. bad luck .... imagine ...

      Delete
    3. That is just terrible and seems to be completely opposite to the impression I had (via google articles) prior to departing for the Kingdom of Jordan. I read so many articles about the royal family's involvement in animal welfare issues. Where are they now?
      Patricia, can you please enlighten me, does Jordan have an animal welfare advisor? An animal welfare department? A food hygiene and sanitation department? A regulatory body policing the sale and trading of animals in public places such as market places, pet shops, roadside stalls or even butcher shops (as witnessed)? A group policing the standards in zoos, sanctuaries or pet shops etc? I have found conflicting information on each of these points.
      Is anyone aware of a way of contacting the King directly to spark enthusiasm in reform? I have had a lot of interest in the Jordan blog post in particular and I would like to evoke positive change through its momentum.
      Thank you for your interest, comment and personal effort and dedication to improving standards on the ground in Jordan despite the reluctance of government.
      Seth Baker

      Delete
    4. Sickening behaviour from a government.

      Delete
  9. Is this another case of Islamic brutality?
    I was led to believe improvements were under way to stop the cruelty. Or have we been led astray by believing people in administration and the media. People should commend you for your work. Jordanian should be ashamed that this is occurring. It is time to boycott countries that show such little respect for animals. Stop exporting live animals to them, and to force change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anonymous. I have tried to stay clear of associating issues with a race, religion or specific body of people. I thank you for your kind words. Yes I agree, people have the right to be highly ashamed of what is happening in their own countries, I know I am of mine. Unfortunately most people would not know what was happening in their own country. If we take my last trip for instance (to the Kingdom of Jordan), people are buying the sheep or cow meat with a stamp from a veterinarian or meat inspector under the assumption that the meat is fit and healthy for their consumption. However, what I saw when walking past the Greater Amman Municipality doors were a group of men hunched over, cutting up meat on a blood soaked floor. This is the very same meat that was stood on and jumped over by the cow that escaped from its enclosure and tried to run to freedom. Surely in no way could this meat be fit for human consumption. With all due respect to the ruling family and members of government, I do not think that they would be eating their meat from this slaughterhouse. It would probably be the finest imported beef from __________________ (where ever the finest beef comes from. I wouldnt know.) A close friend of mine who is Islamic assures me (and I have no reason to disbelieve him) that the Quran says (as other religions do) "Do unto others as you would have done unto you" (obviously not verbatim). I will leave it at that but I thank you for your time, interest and comment. Seth Baker

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a helpful comment above.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Please keep it civil. I appreciate your passion but the delivery lacks any positive aspect. Deleted!
    Seth Baker

    ReplyDelete
  13. There is a ray of hope .... The humane center for animal welfare. Its got a page on fb and website. However the task is enormous

    May

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Center-for-Animal-Welfare/198323936873727

      Delete
  14. http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Kingdom_of_Jordan_Stop_Randomly_Shooting_and_Poisoning_your_Strays/?pv=5

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a disgrace Jordan is. Shameful.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I agree with your closing sentiment. Jordan you should be ashamed. I will send links to your blog to my friends and acquaintances so they can view.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Seth I impressed with your dedication to animals. Jordan government should be held accountable to people and animals. People get sick from the meat. No one listen. Allah would not be pleased. Animals need some one two speak for them.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am sorry to admit that these stories really make me lose faith in the human race. Shame on the people involved in each and every one of these acts of animal exploitation, aggression and abuse.
    My real anger goes to the politicians and in this case, the royal family of Jordan who talk the talk of caring for animals but don't walk the walk! A King? A Queen? Princes and Princesses all publicly voicing their opinion on the matter, gaining political mileage saying the things that people want to hear, but no real action. I don't expect the King to set up a booth in Petra and disallow obese people from breaking the backs of donkeys but I do expect him to reach into his purse (private if need be) and finance the salary of an expert in the area of animal protection or welfare. Seriously how much could it cost? Probably a lot less than the bad publicity created by blogs and articles in the same vane as this one. The world is changing. No longer will people come to your country and turn a blind eye to the ugly side. I have often thought of visiting Petra and the Dead Sea, let me know when Jordan cleans up its act and I may consider it again, until then I wont be visiting and I will convince all customers to my travel site to find a more suitable destination also.

    Sylvia Houghton, www.right-tourism.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well put. I know exactly how you feel. Great website Sylvia.

      Delete