On the mind of Nour Hammoud: This article is written with no use of negation, for the means of respecting the NGO’s message and staying true to their mission: raising awareness on the Lebanese wilderness.
Every change starts small.
In the case of the Animal Encounter’s founders, it started within a small space behind their house. And after a while, they got bigger and in 1997, Animal Encounter officially opened in Aley and started spreading awareness on the wild life.
As both Sharekkna and Animal Encounter are fighting misconceptions, there are some things to correct about this awareness raising NGO.
Many believe that Animal Encounter is a zoo.
Actually, it is a wildlife conservation center.
Animal Encounter cares for the life of the wild animals on three levels:
– By treating injured and sick animals and setting them free into the wild again.
The animals that are weak to go back to the wild are either kept or sent to a natural reserve to protect them;
– By spreading environmental awareness through educational guided tours, seminars that were temporarily virtual during the pandemic and social media activities;
– By contributing in the preservation of the existence of some endangered species.
It is believed that exotic animals are found.
Actually, Animal Encounter cares for the national animals only as they are raising awareness on Lebanon’s wilderness.
The NGO primarily goal is to spread awareness about the wild life in Lebanon and teach on how you can play a role in the preservation of the Lebanese wilderness. Which is why the only animals you will find are national ones.
You will be seeing hyenas, vulture, owls, bears (which apparently do exist in Lebanon, Bcharreh specifically) and many more…
While these were the main misconceptions about the NGO, let’s check now some of the facts too.
There is a community forming thanks to Animal Encounter.
They believe in spreading awareness, letting you in on the secrets of the wilderness.
Restrictive messages that implies to quit hunting or stopping any harmful act for the wild life are inexistent; they will however share with you facts and reasons to start hunting in a more responsible manner, and you can choose to apply this information to your life or abstain.
They share information for your brain to think about because they believe that’s the best way
to raise awareness.
As the founders have been active since 1991, long before the foundation of Animal
Encounter, the individuals they know from the beginning started visiting the reserve with
their family, an ever-going cycle and an ever growing community of educated people on the
wild life and their country’s animals.
There is a slow but steady shift of the Lebanese mindset.
Three minutes in this NGO and I was reconsidering taking in an owl as a domestic pet so
imagine the effect they have on people over the years.
You might find it hard to believe but some actually stopped hunting or started hunting in
seasons that are only reproduction free.
So, next time you are in Aley, go visit them.
Listen to what they have to say as they know a lot. You will leave this NGO with added
knowledge and a light heart.
As this NGO is a personal initiative with inexistent support from the government, and in this
critical economic situation we are living in, you can only imagine the struggle the NGO is
facing to keep helping animals and sharing knowledge.
So, do come visit the NGO.
Do contribute and support in every possible way…
Do go with your friends and let other people know about this place.
It is an experience worth living and an experience worth persisting.
PS: be careful around the wild boars…