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CommunitySustainable7 ways to volunteer to help animals and wildlife in the UAE

Brimming with majestic desert landscapes, pristine white beaches and precious mangrove forests, thousands of different species of wildlife make their home in the UAE. However, littering continues to be a problem, and many people still need to be better educated about the importance of protecting the environment. For example, according to a 2022 study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, 75 percent of all dead green turtles and 57 percent of all dead loggerhead turtles...
Harriet ShephardJanuary 25, 202314 min
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turtles on SaadiyatTurtle on Saadiyat Island

Brimming with majestic desert landscapes, pristine white beaches and precious mangrove forests, thousands of different species of wildlife make their home in the UAE.

However, littering continues to be a problem, and many people still need to be better educated about the importance of protecting the environment.

For example, according to a 2022 study published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin, 75 percent of all dead green turtles and 57 percent of all dead loggerhead turtles found in Sharjah had eaten some form of debris, including plastic bags, bottle caps, rope and fishing nets.

Dubai’s Central Veterinary Research Laboratory has also recorded that one in every 100 camel deaths in the UAE was due to the consumption of plastic waste left behind by humans.

Domestic animals are suffering too.

Despite pet abandonment becoming a criminal offence in 2018, there are believed to be over 100,000 stray cats in Abu Dhabi alone and tens of thousands more in Dubai. Rescue groups are also reporting increasing numbers of abandoned dogs.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways that we can try to make the country a more sustainable and animal-friendly place.

From taking part in clean ups and campaigns, to being a flight buddy for a relocating pet or walking stray dogs, below are some of the ways that you can volunteer to help animals and the environment in the UAE.

Become a Green Citizen

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) runs various different volunteer programs for adults and youth.

Those who sign up to become a Green Citizen are invited to assist with the organization’s regular clean-up initiatives, events and exhibitions, and even train to become a local wildlife guide.

Meanwhile, those aged 18 to 35 can join the Green Youth Majlis. Along with meeting four times a year to discuss sustainable practices and ideas, members take part in EAD workshops and events, and generally do all they can to raise environmental awareness.

Finally, the Murshed scheme lets teenagers have a go at taking on environmental roles such as tour guide, patroller, researcher and more. Designed to nurture the next generation of environmental leaders, the 2023 edition will take place at Mangroves National Park.

Join Saadiyat Island’s Turtle Patrol Program

Led by the conservation team at Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, the Saadiyat turtle conservation program relies on local volunteers to help them monitor the island’s beaches for turtle activity.

During the summer months, volunteers are asked to record any nests or turtle tracks, while in the winter they are encouraged to call in any distressed turtles that have fallen sick and washed up onto the shore.

To volunteer to join the Turtle Patrol, contact the hotel (971 2 811 4444). Meanwhile, if you find a sick turtle in Dubai, you can contact the Jumeirah Group’s Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project at Jumeirah Al Naseem on 800TURTLE (800887853).

Be a flight buddy

Due to the enormous number of strays in the UAE, local rescue groups often try to rehome cats and dogs overseas.

Being a flight buddy is a simple and easy way to assist with this process, and let an abandoned pet reach its loving and new forever home as quickly as possible.

All the required fees, documentation and transportation are arranged by the rescue group, and all you all need to do is check in with the animal, collect it on arrival and hand it over to its new owners.

So, the next time you are traveling back to your home country or heading off on holiday, why not check out the DXB Flight Buddy to the Rescue Facebook page and other rescue group social media platforms to see if any homeless pets could hitch a ride with you?

Report wildlife sightings

Downloading the Abu Dhabi Nature app is one of the quickest and most straightforward ways for Abu Dhabi residents to support local environmental protection efforts.

The “Citizen science” scheme invites the community to log any wild animals or plants they spot, as well as include the GPS location and any photos or videos.

The EAD then uses this data to further its conservation initiatives and monitor the 4,000+ species that live across the emirate.

Support stray rescue groups

Even if you don’t have the money, space or time to adopt or foster a pet, there are still plenty of ways that you can help strays.

From walking dogs, to picking up food and transporting animals, rescue groups are eternally grateful to anyone who gives up their time and energy to their cause.

Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi is constantly seeking members of the community to assist with sterilization and feeding initiatives, such as Abu Dhabi’s TNR (trap, neuter, release) program, while Yanni Animal Welfare has a whole variety of roles that need to be filled by volunteers.

They include training new owners, answering emails and complaints, and monitoring social media, along with more hands-on positions like filling up feeding stations and spending time with sick animals.

Donations are welcome too, either in the form of funds or useful items such as old towels and blankets.

Other registered rescue centers that need your support include the Stray Dogs Center, Nine Lives, RAK Animal Welfare Centre and Furrballs Animal Welfare Organisation.

Sign up with the Emirates Environmental Group

Open to individuals, corporations and educational institutes, members of the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) are invited to play a key part in the organization’s recycling schemes, events and educational programs.

This includes the annual nationwide Clean UAE clean-up, waste collection days, tree-planting sessions, neighborhood recycling schemes and other community-focused initiatives in Dubai and beyond.

Memberships for individuals start from Dh630 per year.

Ride rescued horses

Located at Mandara Equestrian Club in Abu Dhabi, Ride to Rescue is a registered charity dedicated to helping horses recover from abandonment, neglect and abuse.

Horse lovers can support their work by donating funds, food or equipment, sponsoring a horse for Dh100 per month, or paying to take part in a rolling program of activities.

Spanning beach rides, kids’ pony camps, beginner riding lessons and even meditation circles with the horses, you can find out more about their upcoming events on Instagram @ride_to_rescue.

Harriet Shephard

Harriet Shephard is an Abu Dhabi-based copywriter and freelance journalist with a particular focus on fitness, travel and lifestyle, which, along with good food, also happen to be her main passions when she's not typing away at her laptop.

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