|This photo is one of many of a lion cub which resulted in a bidding frenzy on Twitter|
It has recently been reported that a six-month-old lion cub was put up for sale on Twitter, which sparked a bidding frenzy where more than hundred interested buyers offered at least 30,000 dirham for the animal. This lion cub was purchased by a pet store owner's friend at an animal market in Sharjah. Photos posted on the Twitter account for PetMateUAE, an online pet store based in Dubai "selling all types of pets", showed the young cub wearing a collar and a leash. According to the owner and operator of the pet store, the young cub did not belong to him and he was not trying to sell it. Instead, he was trying to find a suitable home for it. In his tweets, the owner begged for help in finding a private farm for the animal and further added that it would only go to a caretaker with proper licenses and permits. As of now, the cub is custody of an official from the Ministry of Environment and Water which is responsible for the welfare of animals in the U.A.E.
I'm proud to see what this pet store owner did, in order to help save the life of this lion cub. Initially he attempted find a sanctuary for the youngster by posting tweets which appeared to be more like he was going to sell it. However, he corrected that mistake by deleting those tweets and replacing them with the ones in which he explicitly pleaded for help in finding a home with a caretaker who has proper licenses and permits. This way, the owner was able to find an ideal candidate who happened to be an official for the emirates' Ministry of Environment and Water. While this incident resulted in what may be a happy ending for this lion cub, it is not the same with other victims of the exotic pet trade in the Middle East. Dr. Elsayed Mohammed, the Middle East director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), stated that he has seen on more than a hundred cases of exotic pets available in the U.A.E through internet. It is said that the fund is putting together a report about online trading of endangered species, and will present it to the Ministry of Environment and Water after two weeks of scouring websites.
According to this article, the exotic pet trade is not illegal in the U.A.E and is regulated by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). And according to the convention, African lions are listed under Appendix II which means their trade in controlled and not forbidden. This also means that any imported lion would require several permits, including an export permit from its country of origin and an approval by the ministry. Dr. Mohammed, who was a member of the emirates' national CITES team, stated that the ministry is not providing proper permits to private individuals for dangerous animals. This makes buying or selling of such animals illegal in the country. I think that despite this action, it does not stop the exotic pet trade from spilling in the cities and towns of the U.A.E. For this reason, organizations like the Emirates Wildlife Society and the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi are working together to trace the origins of animals like this lion cub in order to know where such animals are coming from and whether they are being brought in illegally. In addition to that, wildlife experts stated that anyone having information on any suspicious activity regarding wildlife trafficking should contact the ministry's CITES unit. I believe that enlisting the public's involvement in helping combat the exotic pet trade in U.A.E is crucial, in order help save lives of both people and animals. With scores so-called "pets" showing up in towns and cities, it is an accident waiting to happen at any given moment.
View article here