Weekender Bahrain, Friday, November 15 2019

The Voice of the Silent

admin 16-Aug-2019

The Voice of the Silent
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Animal and Environment Protection Charity Organization (AEPCO) Bahrain, under the able leadership of Shaikha Marwa bint Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Khalifa has been making big strides in animal welfare and protection, in Bahrain. Having spent her childhood around her father's farm animals, the love for animals and the urge to give a voice to the voiceless and ignored pushed her to enlighten people on being compassionate, and to taking actions that matter, that would protect the silenced. 
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The issue is bigger than what she thought she was stepping into, and she rose to the challenge and continues to do so today. Weekender was in conversation with Shaikha Marwa to know a little more AEPCO. 
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W. In your opinion, is Bahrain a pet/stray friendly country?
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Shaikha. Bahrain’s community is a harmonious one of natives and expats. All the residents and citizens are aware of animal welfare, and also heed what is dictated by our religion to not neglect their duty towards helping the voiceless. The community as a whole takes steps to tend to their welfare. We receive donations from benevolent benefactors, and social media campaigns are catching on. We collaborate with social media organizations as well, to receive proper training, to learn more about the correct practices, and to partake of their knowledge and expertise. At this time, we are also grateful to Sheikh Salah Al Jowder, the first Imam to talk about animal welfare in a Friday Khutba. His continued support of AEPCO is unmatched.
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W. What is your take on the stray animal situation in Bahrain? There are two sides of the coin with them requiring attention and protection on the one hand, and people facing harm from them on the other. Do you think there can be an appropriate balance for this situation?

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Shaikha. Strays in Bahrain are friendly and gentle. They misbehave if and only when they have been mistreated in the past. Stray dogs and cats are an essential part of maintaining balance in the environment. Without the strays, the country would face a rat problem. The issue we face in Bahrain is that the ratio of stray dogs is higher than the required number, for the size of the land. The solution to this would be TNR, which has to be done without causing trauma to the animals. Involving international organizations’ sponsorship and approval would help us carry this out safely. Clamping down on instances of cruelty towards strays would, in turn, make them harmless to the general public.

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W. What has been your experience dealing with flora and fauna in Bahrain?

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Shaikha. Upon having paid a visit to the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi headed by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al Nahyan and ran by her H.E. Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, recently, we learned and observed more about their animal welfare policies, by-laws, and projects. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in Dubai as well, have opened their doors to us for mutual cooperation which is beneficial to the marine life in both countries.

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Bahrain’s marine life is under threat from ‘over-fishing’. There are de-finned sharks laid out. AEPCO was recently concerned about two turtles that were found dead in the same week in Bahrain, highlighting the need of the hour to take serious action. We have raised our voices for the protection of turtles, sharks, dolphins, and dugongs, and have been urging the authorities to adopt drastic measures to preserve the fragile ecosystem.

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W. What does AEPCO intend to achieve, in Bahrain?

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Shaikha. Our aim is to make AEPCO the most significant NGO on the island that would address the most talked about issue in the world, the urgent need to work for the protection of the environment, which is the biggest need of the day. Protecting and rehabilitating marine life and promoting animal welfare are our main causes.

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Under this umbrella, we aim to work closely with the UAE government, the Prince’s Trust, and several global organizations to take our organization’s concerns and practices to international standards and policies. 

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