By Michelle Sachs of Truessence
I first visited Ponta D’Ouro, Mozambique over twenty years ago and fell instantly in love with the little rustic beach village and the variety of dogs that live on the beach. I have subsequently visited Ponta D’Ouro yearly and have come to understand what these dogs are all about and get more involved with the amazing group of people who help them.
As you cross the Kosi Bay border into Mozambique you will notice an assortment of spotted, stripey, brown, white and black Afrikanis type dogs that are extremely friendly towards people and highly social within their colony of dogs. As you drive through to Ponta D’Ouro or further onto Ponta Malogane and Ponta Mamoli you will come across many dogs and cats, some snoozing under a tree or resting in the shade nearby a café or roadside bar. There are no fences or high walls restricting their movements, resulting in dogs joining tourists on a daily basis, which adds to the unique charm of these villages.
Some dogs have collars indicating some sort of ownership while others do not. A lot of them have been there for years, some are new and sadly have been abandoned. Almost all of them love people and will join you at a table for lunch or lie with you at the beach, gently taking handed out titbits and exhibiting perfect table manners. Campers often gain a dog during the day, joining them in sun tanning at the beach, partaking of meals and sleeping in their tents, only to lose them later that day as they head off to the various feeding stations positioned within the villages.
The same can be said of the cats, while wilder and not as friendly as their canine companions, the cats can often be seen on the beaches early in the morning chasing skittering crabs across the sand or hanging around the fisherman hoping for some bait or a small fish for breakfast. Many stay near the feeding stations safe in the knowledge that a meal is not far away.
These feeding stations are setup and managed by a passionate group of like minded people who help to feed, treat and protect the stray and wild animals of Southern Mozambique. This organisation is called Protect Ponta and was founded in 2010. They run regular clinics in both Ponta D’Ouro and Ponta Malogane where animals are sterilised, treated for worms or any injuries and vaccinated. They ensure that approximately 80 bags of cat and dog food are sent out from South Africa on a monthly basis to the drop off points to ensure these animals get a daily meal. Visitors to the area are also encouraged to bring a bag of food and drop it off at the collection points, this has increased awareness of the plight of these animals in the area.
The mission of Protect Ponta is to reduce the number of stray animals in the area while enriching the lives of those living there. Through regular vet clinics which offer free services to the locals, plus education on how to care for their dogs and offering sterilisations, the hope is to reduce the cycle of stray dogs and cats, reduce suffering and the spread of disease. Education is key in turning this tide around and many locals have now come to understand how to care properly for the dogs and cats they live with, ensuring a much happier and healthier environment for all.
The education effort does not stop at dogs and cats, but extends towards the capture of baby monkeys, chameleons, bushbuck and terrapins for sale to tourists. People are encouraged to report such instances and not support them to prevent decimation of the local wildlife. Locals are educated and encouraged to protect the wildlife as a national treasure to be treated with respect.
One of the biggest challenges Protect Ponta faces is the dump dogs. On the outskirts of the village lies a landfill where waste is dropped off by restaurants, lodges and residents. This has attracted a lot of dogs that are very feral and living wild. They are not social and do not engage with people. They need to be sterilised and vaccinated to prevent further litters of puppies and diseases from spreading to the local beach dogs. With this in mind fundraising such as Golf Days, monetary and food donations are always needed to help these dogs and improve their quality of life.
If you are heading to Mozambique in the coming holiday months and want to make a difference in the lives of these incredible dogs and cats, please contact Protect Ponta or visit their Facebook page. Here you’ll find listings of golf day fundraisers, drop off points for food donations or dates to join in the next vet clinics. Offer your time to help, sit with a dog as it recovers from surgery, hold a wriggly puppy having a first time vaccination or stroke a soft cat’s head as they get a once over with the vet. It’ll be the most amazing part of your holiday, that I can guarantee. As for the weather….that’s another matter entirely.
Drop Off points:
Oceana Diving – Motel Do Mar Ponta D’Ouro
The Whaler Dive Centre – Ponta D’Ouro
Wiseman at Malogane Dive Centre