UAE vets called for beach clean up on Lulu Island after cats began sustaining injuries from washed up debris
An Abu Dhabi island which is home to more than 165 stray cats has been the site of a clean-up operation to highlight growing concerns about plastic pollution.
Animal welfare volunteers enlisted the help of ambassadors from Canada, New Zealand and Australia, as well as UAE government officials to clean up beaches on Lulu Island.
Currents regularly wash plastic and other garbage onto the island’s beaches, while visitors and tourists are also guilty of dumping waste.
When cats began picking up injuries from discarded fishing lines and hooks, vets who run a trap, neuter and release programme alongside a feeding station on the island called for the clean-up.
‘Although there is no ferry service to Lulu Island, it still has regular visitors,’ said Dr Susan Aylott, a volunteer at Animal Welfare Abu Dhabi. ‘The internal island is closed to the public, but there is access to outside beaches and there has been a gradual build-up of rubbish over the years.
‘We’ve been trying to encourage people to take their litter with them after a visit, as most people are not aware of the damage they’re doing. The stuff that people leave behind is crazy, they leave tins, cans and a lot of plastic waste.
‘It takes a long time to break down in the ocean, if it ever does and is damaging to everyone, not just marine life.
‘It is not just about hygiene areas for the community, but for the animals as well.’
Collected waste will be taken to recycling centres with Tadweer, the Abu Dhabi waste management centre, to reduce the need for landfill.
In Abu Dhabi, neutering of cats is sponsored by the municipality. Once caged, the cats are taken to a veterinary hospital where they are sterilised for free. They are also vaccinated and given a free health check-up.