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The Islington woman saving Moroccan kittens abandoned on a rubbish dump from almost certain death

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Abandoned kittens left to die in a North African rubbish heap probably never expected to end up in London.

But one north London woman could no longer bear to see the pain and suffering endured by the little fluff balls nearly 1,800 miles away so she decided to do something.

Photojournalist Anne Heslop, 60, of Islington, has travelled the world taking photos for newspapers, making short films, and setting up a charity in India, but now she is trying to stem a glut of sick and disabled kittens in Morocco.

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It started four years ago in her beloved seaside escape of Azemmour, near Casablanca, where she noticed the street animals were in really bad condition.

“I was often finding sick and dying kittens in the street and I was trying to find people to take them.

“I looked up animal welfare in Morocco and found very little, both sanctuaries are about seven hours away from my little town,” she said.

If kittens get flu the subsequent infection can eventually cause their eyes to burst

Anne described their conditions ranging from starving to virus ridden, some even blinded by infection and ulcers.

Fluid seeping from their eyes, much like a runny nose, becomes encrusted as they sleep, then it gets infected and swollen until their eyes burst leaving them unable to see.

She added: “It distresses me to see a kitten in that way.

“I cannot just walk past and do nothing.”

In a video filmed before the pandemic she showed the rubbish dump where many kittens are left to die, some with both eyes completely crusted over, with only bloodied chicken heads to eat chucked into the heap by nearby “chicken murderers”.

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Cats are dumped and left to feed on rotting flesh thrown away by ‘chicken murderers’ as Anne calls them

Four years and 600 spayed cats later her charity ‘Effective Rescue to Help Azemmour’s Moggies’ (ERHAM) is still fighting the deluge of abandoned kittens in the area, even bringing some back on the 30 hour plus drive to London.

The long winded name comes from ‘erham’, the Arabic word for ‘Take Pity’, which is important because she recognises working with local people and educating them about sterilisation is crucial.

That means putting up posters in Arabic at the bins where many kittens are dumped and left to die, as well as trying to show people what is happening and how to stop it.

Initially she received pushback about sterilization due to religious beliefs, it was seen as interfering with God, but Anne persevered.

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So far they have spayed 600 cats and plan to do more

She said the most important thing though was just to sterilize cats and let people see for themselves how effective intervention is.

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Comparing the issue in Morocco to the UK she said Britain has an effective programme, to the point where “if someone finds a cat and kittens in a UK street it is shocking”.

In 2019 Anne brought Shadow and blind cat Beauty back to London on a road trip, they now live happily with their new owner in Haringey.

At the same time she also rehomed another cat Zein – Arabic for handsome – to Penge in south London.

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Beauty might be blind but he now lives a happy life in Haringey, North London

Today she revealed five more are waiting to come but are being delayed by coronavirus travel restrictions, while she has five more she wants to prepare who are mostly disabled.

So far she has raised just over £1000 for the appeal but they need more money so she can secure good quality food for kittens left in the rubbish tip.

Strays cats in the UK are eligible for free vaccination and neutering, even if you don’t own the animal you can take it to the vet.

If you are considering rehoming a stray though, the RSPCA says “Giving a home to a cat in need can be hugely rewarding but it’s also a responsibility and a long-term commitment. Consider carefully whether you have the time, space and money.”

You can donate to the GoFundMe here.

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/north-london-news/islington-woman-saving-moroccan-kittens-21860122