The Kingdom will soon have an environmental police unit to arrest poachers and others who harm the environment, according to Prince Bandar bin Saud, president of the Saudi Wildlife Commission (SWC).
Prince Bandar said the unit would arrest people like those young Saudis who were recently photographed driving vehicles with piles of endangered lizard carcasses.
He said a proposal submitted nine years ago to form the unit has now been revived. “We expect the environmental police [unit\ will be formed soon,” he said.
While there are special deterrents for people breaking traffic laws, there are no penalties for those who harm the nature and break environmental laws, he said.
He said the SWC does not offer any reward for the arrest and conviction of poachers. Its mandate is only to ensure nature conservation.
Prince Bandar said other countries have clear penalties in place for people who break environmental laws.
"Migrating birds and lizards are killed every year because of such practices,” said Prince Bandar. The SWC receives many photographs as proof of these violations.
He said there are too many ministries and agencies dealing with environmental protection. The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for forests and pastures, and the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) has to monitor pollution.
“But stopping poaching is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior,” he said.
The SWC covers about 4.3 percent of the Kingdom’s land area. “This represents 16 nature reserves across the country supervised and monitored by 450 highly efficient rangers,” he said.
He said an environmental police unit would fill the gap between these three bodies.
Prince Bandar said young Saudis are imitating the bad behavior of others. He said a well-known artist, who killed several karak birds and posted the video on YouTube last year, got off scot-free.
Others post videos on YouTube showing them killing birds and animals, and cutting down trees in the wild, he said.