As much of an animal lover that I am, I personally have never been the biggest fan of cats. There’s always been something about the personality of the feline species that I could never fully warm to. They say a dog is man’s best friend and having been a dog owner since my infant years, I can testify that there is nothing quite like the undying loyalty a dog will show it’s owner.
Despite my prejudice against the feline species, on a recent trip to the Dead Sea; I was persuaded by my girlfriend (a life-long cat lover) to adopt a feral kitten that we found, abandoned by it’s mother and begging for food. Begrudgingly, I took the cat in and looking back I couldn’t have been happier to have done so.
What exactly converted me: from a distruster of cats to a cat owner myself? There is an intelligence engrained in the feline instinct that I can respect, after all, they have good reason to be distrustful.
Anyone who has lived in Amman long enough will have noticed, but most likely, swept aside any thought of the stray and feral cat population that lives amongst us. Not to say that everyone should take it upon themselves to give these cats a home as I did. However, there is an endemic problem with the attitude that many people in Jordan take toward creatures of the animal variety.
The average observation of the typical treatment of these ‘dumpster kitties’, reveals a more worrying attitude towards the treatment of all animals in the Kingdom. Ignoring the fact that a healthy population of domestic animals improves public health and livestock-based economics, and means fewer diseases being spread to wildlife; it’s an aspect of conservation that is too often neglected.
The general treatment of animals in Jordan leaves a lot to be desired. Only this year it has been reported on multiple occasions that a variety of endangered species have been disgustingly killed for sport in the Kingdom. Earlier this month Earlier this month, The Jordan Times reported that “residents of a west Amman neighbourhood killed a striped hyena on Tuesday, triggering anger among conservationists who said the animal was locally endangered… News reports said that two men had shot and killed the hyena at dawn on Tuesday in the Marj Al Hamam neighbourhood after failing to capture it alive. The two men reportedly chased the animal for two kilometres before cornering it. Ehab Eid, head of the field research section at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), condemned the killing of the animal, noting that striped hyenas are an endangered species in Jordan and that their population is dwindling. ‘They chased after the animal, which was afraid and running to survive. It was probably just passing through the area and got unlucky.’”
People fail to realise that in such situations, the encountered animal is most likely more scared than the person hunting it. Such narratives, only highlight the fact that the majority of residents of the Kingdom tend to take a superior view of themselves towards animals and tend to ignore the sanctity of life that other living creatures enjoy.
In addition, last month a gruesome online video was posted showing two men boasting about the killing of an owl, a species already dwindling in Jordan. According to Mr. Eid: “Hunting is threatening the owl population in Jordan. People hunt owls because in our culture, owls are thought to bring bad luck and jinx those who see them. But owls have many benefits that people are not aware of, such as limiting the spread of rodents that carry diseases.”
This worrying aspect of favouring superstitious beliefs over facts is found in the details of another killing of an endangered animal; again reported by The Jordan Times: “A “weird” animal that was reported killed… and claimed to extract bodies from graves is the stone marten, a rare and endangered species in Jordan… A local news website posted yesterday photos of an animal, reporting that people in Mafraq killed it after they suspected it to have extracted a body of a dead child from its grave.”
It wouldn’t take a wealth of research to uncover the fact that the stone marten is closely related to other common omnivorous animals such as the ferret, badger or weasel. When such superstitious accounts are given true weight by people; one begins to understand the basis of such blasé attitudes towards the life of animals, starting with the treatment of your average ‘dumpster kitty’, not to mention the endangered animals that struggle for survival in Jordan.
As was once said “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”
Please think about that notion the next time you pass a stray animal begging for survival. There’s something you can do to help: Save a life, adopt a pet or at least try to give the animal a loving home if you can: email@example.com