An introduction to Morocco

Read more about SPANA's work in Morocco

SPANA Morocco director Prof. Abdelhamid Belemlih treating a brown horseProf. Abdelhamid Belemlih is our country director in Morocco. He studied veterinary medicine in Lyon in France. He has worked for SPANA for 27 years.

What is it like working for SPANA in Morocco?
Working for SPANA means many different things to me. We treat animals that belong to people who really need them. Without SPANA providing free treatment these animals would not receive any care. We also educate both children and current owners of animals about animal welfare. In the last two years in Morocco we have started an Equitherapy and pet therapy program which allows us to work with local charities and help reach children who greatly benefit from this. SPANA also helps to train both Moroccan and international vets.

What is the best part of your job?
The part of my work that gives me the most satisfaction is when I see an animal looking happy after being treated by SPANA, but also seeing the owner happy as well. Their animal is often the only way they can earn a living. I’m proud that SPANA’s work is beneficial for them both.

What has been a memorable experience whilst working for SPANA?
One day whilst visiting the SPANA centre in Marrakech a little girl and her mother had brought their cat in to be treated as it had been hit by a car. They knew SPANA would help them. Whilst Dr Lamrini treated the cat the girls’ mother asked me why I had decided to become a vet. I told her that many years ago when I was a young boy I was on a picnic with my parents when I noticed a stork with an injured wing. I took the stork to the vet and visited it every day. The vet would explain to me what he was doing until one day the stork was able to fly again. That’s when I knew I wanted to become a vet. Some years later whilst I was a professor at the Veterinary school a student approached me. She looked familiar but I was not sure how I knew her. That’s when she told me she had been that little girl at the clinic in Marrakech, and I had inspired her to become a vet herself.

What is your favourite thing about Morocco?
Morocco is a country of great diversity. We have the different landscapes; the Sahara desert and the Snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains. Our location is unique as we are at a crossroads between Europe and Africa and this is reflected in the people that live here. We also have beautiful flora and fauna, all of which are under threat, but there are many people trying to conserve our nature.

All about Morocco

Valley in MoroccoMorocco, or the Kingdom of Morocco, is located in the West of North Africa. It is also known as the Maghreb which is ‘the Arab West’. It borders both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. It has been influenced by different cultures; Arab, Berber, European and African. Morocco was a French Protectorate from 1912 to 1956, and before that had also been under a Spanish Protectorate. In fact, French and Spanish are still two of the major languages as well as Arabic and Berber.

The geography of Morocco varies from mountainous regions such as the Atlas Mountains to deserts such as the Sahara. There are also forests covering nearly 12% of all the land. The weather can be quite unpredictable; it can get very hot with hardly any rain especially in the desert regions, but it can also get cold and can snow in the higher mountain regions. Morocco did have wild elephants and lions but sadly there are no longer any left.

Parts of Morocco have become popular tourist destinations. Marrakech is very busy; people like to walk around the markets, or ‘souks’, to buy lamps, carpets, copper and spices. You can also take a carriage ride to see the popular sights, these are very popular green carriages drawn by the ‘caleche’ horses.

Tourism has been gradually increasing and this has meant many new jobs have been created. However, nearly half of all the working population are employed agriculturally, although this does not earn farmers or the country very much money. Morocco is gradually becoming more developed and roads are being built to link towns and cities. Some areas are still quite inaccessible, especially the Mountain regions, and so are easier to reach on two feet or if you are lucky on a donkey or horse


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