Bahraini authorities are seeking to tame a roaring trade in wild animals, which are being smuggled into the country to meet the fierce demand for exotic creatures in the tiny Gulf archipelago.
"Our teams have managed to confiscate monkeys, crocodiles, young tigers and various types of snakes of different sizes," Salman Abdulnabi, an official at the ministry of municipalities, told AFP.
The problem reared its head last week when a stray wild cat caused panic by entering a company building in the capital Manama. The cat, a lynx, was later caught.
"We have discovered crocodiles, snakes, wild cats, in total about 30 species of wild animals . . . that were smuggled into the country," Abdulnabi said.
"We never imagined there are that many wild animals in Bahrain,” he said.
Some farms acquired so many strange beasts that they have become virtual zoos and schools have started to organize trips, according to a man who rears wild animals.
The passion of Bahrainis for exotic animals is shared by residents of other Gulf states, but the small size of the country means problems are greater when the unusual pets escape or their owners discard them if they have become difficult to maintain.
Bahrain offers little space for animals to roam about, as its 13 islands are home to over a million people but have a combined area of merely 662 square kilometers (255 square miles), barely the size of a decent ranch in some countries. More....