Maldives… the only sound of this word creates the image of blissfully calm blue waters, vast sandy beaches, endless sunsets watched while lazily sipping on an exotic cocktail in mind… Described as a “tropical paradise”, it is one of the world’s most desired destinations for the rich and famous seeking unrivalled luxury and a true holiday of a lifetime.
Very few, however, are aware of the darker and rather grim side to the country, often believed to be the Heaven on Earth.
The picture perfect image of Maldives is quickly being tainted by a series of brutal killings of stray cats started a few months ago and continuing today in an attempt to “control” the rapidly growing population of unwanted stray cats.
Merlin the kitten was obviously born under a lucky star. His mom was killed by humans and all of his siblings were dead by the time the volunteer spotted him. He was in a pretty rough shape, scared and hungry, and was desperately crying. His waist was about 2 cm thin (it was measured!) and he would most likely soon be dead of starvation and thirst, if he hadn’t been rescued in time.
No one knows how and when the first cats arrived in Maldives but according to a volunteer from Forgotten Animals, a UK-registered charity working to alleviate animal suffering where most needed, quickly growing groups of stray cats often in bad shape, sick or hurt can be seen all over the capital Male and other cities on different islands.
With scarce to no access to food or fresh water, and ZERO access to veterinary care the cats make a pitiful sight. There is almost no pet or humane culture among the population, people often abuse or at best ignore stray animals, who eventually die of thirst, hunger, diseases or hit by bikes.
Unneutered cats quickly breed to produce more and more kittens bound to suffer and eventually die the same painful death.
Obviously, clowders of stray cats also represent a direct threat to the booming tourism sector.
Quickly spreading population of sick, stray animals is a potential public health hazard, not to speak about being a major blow to the country’s reputation as a luxury ‘paradise-like’ travel destination.
Even a single sighting of a suffering animal can definitely ruin a holiday for a sensitive child, an animal lover or simply a western tourist unused to seeing suffering stray animals.
The situation can no longer be ignored and has been recently flagged by a luxurious 5 star resort Six Senses who contacted Forgotten Animals with the request for action. “We believe if the issue continues the island could become an unhealthy environment for us to use, as the cats we find are extremely hungry for not having access to any type of food or water” is a concerned voiced by Six Senses’ Education & Community Outreach Manager.
The involvement of Forgotten Animals with their successfully executed spay and neuter campaigns in 30+ cities with over 10,000 of animals sterilized might be just the right solution to this dire situation.
The government of Maldives, despite recognising the urgent need for action, has declined the request to fund the Spay and Neuter Campaign, but agreed to provide the space for the temporary vet clinic and to waive the taxes on the drugs needed for surgeries.
Forgotten Animals has prepared the Spay and Neuter Campaign programme aiming to neuter 400 animals in all cities over the period of 10-14 days. With the support of visiting vets from marine animal organisation Olive Ridley the cats will be neutered pro bono.
However, the funding for anaesthetics, post op medication and carriers needs to be raised, otherwise the Campaign won’t be possible. The currently estimated budget is 16,500 USD.
Thanks to the country being isolated and its relatively small size the quick long-term impact can be made with limited means, ending the suffering once and for all.
But only if we act NOW.
To learn how you can support the project and save stray cats in Maldives from suffering, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/alla039s-campaign-for-forgotten-animals