An animal rights activist and her sister travel all across across the Gelibolu peninsula of western Turkey every day to feed about 200 stray animals left to fend for themselves amid pandemic-related isolation.
Necla Varol, head of an animal rights association in Eceabat district of Çanakkale province, loads her van with the aid of her sister, Nazife Çoklaş, every day with food donated by animal lovers. They drive around the peninsula, which was home to the well-known Gallipoli battle of World War I, to find stray animals, leaving food for cats and dogs.
Although they are safe from the outbreak that killed hundreds in Turkey, animals are indirectly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Most people tend to stay home and few are present to give much-needed food for animals. Varol and Çoklaş volunteer in their place to feed the animals, which are so accustomed to the duo, they run towards the sisters’ van when its in sight. For those farther away, Necla Varol honks the horn for “lunch time.” Along with cats and dogs, the occasional fox or other wild animal drops by for a bite.
Varol, who has worked in animal welfare since 1993 when a dog she found in her house’s backyard died four months later, founded an association in 2014. She told Anadolu Agency (AA) that stray animals already have rough lives and measures against COVID-19 further complicates challenges for them.
Varol says that she and her sister load about 120 kilograms (265 pounds) of food in their van every day. “The peninsula is very big and there are about 200 animals living in an area of about 100 kilometers. Normally, this place is full of visitors and people coming to their summer residences and feeding them. Everyone is confined to their home. We have to stay at home too, but someone should do this. These animals need to be fed,” she says.
“To feed them is a beautiful feeling,” Nazife Çoklaş says. “All they need is a bit love, and it makes me happy to see them running to us.”