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Starvation looms for Morocco’s horses

MARRAKECH, Morocco — 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, and he is still scared about the future for the others. The prospect of starvation looms for carriage horses and other animals normally used in Morocco’s tourist mecca, since 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 also recently issued a ban on domestic travel to eight cities, including Marrakech.

Thousands of people in the city 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, driver Abdeljalil Belghaoute

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

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