(TMU) — While lockdown and shelter-in-place orders across the world have been something of a boon to wildlife and the environment as a whole, some animals have actually suffered as people have disappeared from the streets.
As the Mind Unleashed reported last month, creatures such as deer in Japan and monkeys in Thailand that once relied on tourists for food have seen food sources shrivel up in the wake of lockdown orders. Meanwhile in some cities, ducks living in parks are suffering due to a lack of visitors who would normally feed them scraps of bread.
However, authorities in Turkey are doing what they can to ensure that stray animals don’t fall by the wayside amid the ongoing health emergency.
According to Daily Sabah, the Turkish Interior Ministry issued a bulletin earlier this month laying out its plans to assist homeless animals impacted by the country’s social distancing policies meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new rules, local officials and the national government will collaborate to ensure that the creatures have stable food and water supples so that they don’t starve amid the public health crisis.
The ministry said:
“Food and water will be left at the living environments of street animals such as parks and gardens and particularly animal shelters.”
The newspaper also cited taking care of needy and helpless creatures as a part of Turkish culture, with neighborhoods typically working together to look after stray dogs and cats while local municipal veterans vaccinate the homeless animals.
The measure comes after local governments declared their readiness to continue the practice despite the pandemic’s disruption of Turkish life. In March, the municipality of the Maramara district of Darıca distributed food to animals as it carried out disinfectant activities, the Sabah reports. Officials of Darıca said:
“Even if everyone stays at home, we are not going to forget our furry friends. We will leave water and food at three feeding points at various intervals.”
The move has been warmly greeted by social media users, with many praising Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu for the initiative.
The official Twitter account of the Bayrampasa district in Twitter shared photos of stray animals being fed.
Hayatı birlikte paylaştığımız sokaktaki can dostlarımızın yanındayız. Veteriner İşleri Müdürlüğümüz tarafından; Bayrampaşa Belediyesi Sokak Hayvanları Geçici Bakım Evi, İlçemizdeki Kedi Evlerimiz ve Beslenme Odaklarımızda günlük su, mama ve temizlik işlemi sürekli devam ediyor. + pic.twitter.com/g7HJ0xOEdY
— BayrampaşaBelediyesi (@bpasabelediyesi) April 5, 2020
Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul also tweeted a photo of himself petting a dog and saying ”we should not abandon our animal friends during these tough days.”
However, Gul received negative feedback for the tweet as some social media users used the opportunity to lambaste the top official for the treatment of prisoners who remain especially susceptible to the coronavirus.
As of Tuesday, there is a total of 65,111 confirmed coronavirus infections and 1,403 deaths caused by the illness since the first case was confirmed five weeks ago. The Guardian reports that the infection numbers suggest the country may have one of the fastest-rising numbers of confirmed cases in the world.
As CoViD-19 takes its toll on Turkish society, the government has responded with strict social distancing measures including restrictions on those who are 20 or younger, 65 or older, and those who suffer from chronic diseases and health conditions.
The government has also gradually imposed such measures including the suspension of international flights, border crossings, and inter-city travel as well as a ban on public gatherings, communal prayers, schools, and non-essential businesses.
Last Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdoğan banned the sale of face masks—a high-demand object often subject to exorbitant price-gouging—while promising that masks would be distributed to homes free of charge. The use of masks is a requirement in shops, public spaces, and on public transportation.
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