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Image de Andrzej Kryszpiniuk

Animal Welfare

We care about all animals on and around the Gili Islands, both underwater and on land.


As nature lovers, it goes without saying that we care about all animals on and around the islands.

We are not alone, there are two projects on the island that focus all their attention on animals,

namely Cats of Gili and  Stud Horse Riding and Rescue Stables. 

Please visit these two non-profit projects when you arrive and gain a better understanding

of their work, you will also be able to see their latest activities.


To donate to the Cats of Gili you can find their fundraising page here.

To support the rescue of retired working Gili ponies you can donate here.


The Gili Islands are still very traditional in many respects, for many people it can be a surprise that horses are still used as a means of transport here. This is the traditional means of transport, not just here or on Lombok, but also throughout much of Indonesia.

On the one hand, many people agree that it is charming, much more peaceful and environmentally friendly than if we were to have motorised transport instead. However, the challenge is ensuring the horses are treated well.

While we do not have the influence to be able to change or stop the use of horses altogether, there are many of us on the islands who care deeply about their welfare, including the drivers themselves.

Just like everywhere in the world, there are people who love animals and those who don’t care quite as much. If you are reading this, it suggests that you care about animals as much as we do. Although there has been significant progress in attitudes towards to animals in many countries over the years, it isn’t necessarily the same here, the journey is slow and requires a lot of patience.


Most local Indonesians, including the Cidomo drivers, earn a very humble living. The drivers in particular, must pay fees to the owner of their horse, buy horse feed which must be shipped from the mainland, pay rent on a property where they can keep the horses and usually live on site also. There is usually very little left from their salary to be able to live off themselves. It is a real financial challenge for drivers to be able to pay for the food and level of care their horses need. In challenging times such as the earthquakes of 2018 and Covid 19, as well as the long recovery period after, it is a continued struggle to be able to earn enough to care for their horses better. Looking after animals and paying for food or medical treatment is quite literally a luxury they often cannot afford.


The Gili Islands currently have no vets on the islands, the nearest ones are on Lombok, but those who specialise in horse care are even harder to find. For years the only way any animal could get care was to go to the mainland of Lombok, however, when the Gili Eco Trust was founded, we began organising free vet clinics with experienced vets who would come from all around the globe to help volunteer their time.

In 2013, Cats of Gili was founded as a project sponsored by Gili Eco Trust to help cats on an ongoing basis. Stud Horse Riding & Rescue also has been working to collaborate and initiate trust amongst the local horse cart drivers, offering free basic health care and workshops to train local farriers for better horseshoes for the working ponies. 


Animals native to the Gili Islands include the numerous species of birds and monitor lizards. Most other animals on the island are introduced domestic farm animals including cows, goats and chickens. Native songbirds are kept by many Indonesian residents as pets, you will often see cages hanging outside of shops and you may sometimes see locals gathering at the football field to have a birdsong competition. Keeping exotic pets is still something we see across all of Indonesia and Asia. As there are so many issues for us to care about already and this requires a huge cultural change in attitude, we are not able to give these issues our full attention and have to prioritise our efforts on where our expertise and urgency lies.

As we do already have a large focus on our underwater habitats and marine life, we have recently started a turtle protection programme, which you we will update you on soon.


Most drivers care for their horses with the best intentions but may not always know the best way to do so. They also often don’t have access to a skilled farrier and may try to make their own handmade horseshoes, for example. One of the main areas of focus for Stud Rescue Stables and Gili Eco Trust is helping to educate drivers and owners of how to care for their animals.

What You Need to Know

Cat humide


The cats of the Gili Islands are world famous and adored by tourists and residents alike. They are possibly the friendliest you will ever meet.

The two most noticeable features you will find about many of the cats on the Gili Islands are their unusual tails and ear markings.


The cats on the Gili Islands are largely stray and the population has been growing in an uncontrolled way for many years since they were first introduced by residents as pets. The result is a largely inbred population, which leads to genetic and physical deformities. Stumpy, crooked and weird tails are the most obvious sign. It is one of the many reasons Cats of Gili works hard to keep the cat population under control through an ongoing Trap Neuter Return sterilisation programme.


You will see in this photograph this cat has a V-shaped cut in his left ear. This is what is called “tipping” and happens when a stray cat is sterilised (neutered) as part of a Trap Neuter Return Programme. These programmes are run internationally to help keep stray cat populations under control and it tells us the cat is already neutered and therefore cannot breed.

Cats of Gili runs regular volunteer vet clinics to help run this TNR programme on the islands and cat catchers know that a cat with this ear marking does not need to be taken to the vet.

It is painless for the cat as it is done while they are under anaesthetic. It is similar to having your ears pierced except that the cat is asleep at the time.




Many people don’t even know how lucky they are. Almost all hotels, hostels and resorts on Trawangan are less than a 20 minute walk !



Some hotels have started to leave drinking water out for horses to drink whilst waiting. Also, some are encouraging more shaded streets, and more tree cover so the horses don’t have to work in full sun.


The Gili Islands do not currently have a permanent vet. If you are concerned about a cat, it would be best to contact Cats of Gili

If you are not sure, you can also get in touch with us and we will try to help.


Visit the Cats of Gili website for more information about how you can support their cause.

We also set aside some of our funds to support projects and volunteer vet clinics.

Donating is often the most helpful thing you can do.

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