By Sean McLain, Tahira Yaqoob
Lions and tigers and bears. Snakes on a plane. A barrel full of monkeys. Newspaper headlines for the recent spate of smuggling cases involving exotic and endangered animals nearly write themselves.
While the headlines may be amusing, the facts of the illicit trade in wild animals are from a laughing matter. Most people will have fumed in anger at the Emirati man who is alleged to have tried to leave Bangkok with a suitcase stuffed with four leopard cubs, a Malayan sun bear and a red-cheek marmoset, all endangered species. And they will no doubt have felt a sense of impotent indignation at the news on Tuesday that he got on a plane and fled the country, thereby escaping justice.
The heart-wrenching story of the two young lions recently rescued in Abu Dhabi will have induced even deeper outrage. The ends of their paws had been amputated to remove their claws and their canine teeth had been filed down until the roots were exposed. The cruelty shown by their owners is contemptible. Sadly, it is not unique.
On Sunday, a cheetah was spotted limping through the streets of Karama in the capital. Malnourished, the eight-month-old animal broke its chain presumably out of hunger and leapt from a rooftop, breaking a foreleg.
Reports have trickled in over the years showing a slow, but steady trade in exotic species, often endangered, often imported in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) and UAE law. The National has reported on tiger cubs being sold openly in the markets of the Emirates. More....