Merthyr woman aids tourist horses abandoned in Egypt

Beth Sartain feeding one of the hungry horses
Image caption Some abandoned horses are showing signs of starvation, says Beth Sartain

A woman from Wales now living in Egypt is trying to help feed hundreds of horses left starving after the recent political upheaval drove away tourists.

Beth Sartain, 40, from Merthyr Tydfil, said she was shocked to find scores of emaciated animals at one tourist site.

She is working with the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals which says horses providing rides at the pyramids have been abandoned by their owners.

Mrs Sartain estimated up to 3,000 horses need help in one area.

A mother-of-two whose husband teaches in Cairo, she has refused to flee the country during the protests which saw President Hosni Mubarak step down.

She said it was not safe to travel during the first days of the political protests.

Like many expats, she has taken up riding and keeps a horse in stables.

As a result she had to stay away from where her horse, an Arabian stallion called Seren - Welsh for star - is stabled.

She said that while she was kept away from Seren, Egyptians who earn a living providing horses rides at the pyramids lost their income as the tourist trade dried up.

Image caption Many of the remaining horses are being fed by volunteers

In recent days she said she had been able to travel around the greater Cairo area.

She said: "I was seeing many horses starving to death in front of my eyes.

"The people who own them, some have 20, some have one or two. They rely on tourists for their income.

"They cannot feed their families and they cannot feed their horses. There was no help available for their horses.

"As soon as I saw the problem, I thought I've got to do something to help. It's just going to get worse because the tourists will not come back for while. "

Her fundraising since last week has allowed her to take delivery of food for 450 horses for two days.

Another delivery of food for 500 horses is expected, but Mrs Sartain said she estimated there may be up to 3,000 horses who face an uncertain future.

She said the fundraising, in conjunction with the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (Esma), ensured owners must prove they owned a horse before they could collect food.

On its website, Esma said: "This period of political transition in Egypt has created an animal welfare crisis, and Esma urgently needs donations to cover the many extra burdens we now have.

"The animal welfare problems remain grave - Mubarak's resignation did not solve these problems!"

Mrs Sartain has been updating friends and supporters via her Facebook page.

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