In September 2011 images were published of the Porsche driver in Dubai walking his pet cheetah on a leash in the middle of a busy urban center?
The article highlighted the legal inequalities in the United Arab Emirates where trafficking illegal drugs in the United Arab Emirates can earn offenders a death sentence, but trafficking wild animals that are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) apparently goes unnoticed if committed by a rich Emirati.
Although the United Arab Emirates has been an official member of CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Wild Species in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, since 2002, officials appear to look the other way when blatantly illegal wildlife trafficking spills into the UAE’s public realm.
Ajman, one of the smallest of the seven Emirates is looking to be tougher on these crimes. Had this Dubai resident been a resident of neighboring Ajman, he could have received a massive fine and the animal would have been confiscated. This is the first Gulf Country to pass legislation which makes it clear that keeping lions, cheetahs, and crocodiles as pets is not ok.
In 2011 the Ajman Municipality passed Law 54, which states that the possession of all wild animals and reptiles in homes, apartments, and hostels is illegal.
This move followed a spate of incidents of non-domesticated animals “escaping” residents and endangering other people. Hmmmm…wonder how that happened? Apparently this new law “protects the community from any danger and damages” that occur when crocodiles and other wild animals break free from their “owners.”
Ajman’s Executive Director of Public Health and Envrionment Khalid AlHousani states that the law was passed following surveys carried out by the department and complaints received from citizens and residents of the Emirate.
He added that anyone caught with a wild animal or reptile in their home (including lizards) will receive “a penalty of 10,000 Dirham (or $2,720) and the animal will be transferred to a zoo or reserve park.”
AlHousani says “Ajman is the first to pass such a Law. We hope that others will do the same.”
It’s a Start
Whilst I could comment on the discrepancies in this statement and the law itself with respect to the animals themselves and their welfare and treatment, it is a step in the right direction for the region.
At least a law has been created and hopefully will serve as a deterrent to people looking for their next pet.
Though $2,720 isn’t much of a fine to a Dubai resident driving a Porsche (into which he stuffs his pet cheetah), perhaps in Ajman is has more of a financial impact…. Time will tell.
For now, salute Ajman for recognising that wildlife shouldn’t live in an apartment nor be transported in a Porsche.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
When you travel, you may witness these kinds of distressing events. Get details where you can and report it to the authorities.
Contact wildlife trade monitoring and action organisations such as TRAFFIC , WWF and International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN