By Habib Toumi
Illegal hunters parade truckload of 'dhabi', the Gulf's spiny tailed reptile
Manama: Saudis have called for stringent action against anyone who catches excessive quantities of 'dhabi', the spiny tailed lizard that lives in the deserts of the Gulf countries, saying that illegal poaching was a serious threat to the ecoregion biodiversity.
The calls were prompted by the wide online circulation of pictures of two men proudly displaying a truckload of lizards in what some people called 'environmental disaster'.
The Saudis said that the authorities should act quickly and decisively to stem the wildlife hunting threats and to make sure that poachers do not feel they can operate with impunity.
“The Saudi Wildlife Commission should endeavour to identify the two young men and press for action against them for their heinous act,” one activist said, quoted by local news site Sabq on Monday. “If no action is taken, then we may lose the dhabi forever since it will be extinct,” he said.
Abdullah Al Qhidani, a Saudi with great interest in wildlife, said that spiny tailed lizards were on their way to extinction.
“They have been victims of wild hunting in the last few years, often in large quantities, and there are today regions where they can no longer be seen,” he said.
“We used to see them in large numbers, but today, we have to look for them painstakingly and we do find them, they are just a few,” he told Sabq.
Al Qhidani insisted action be taken against anyone engaged in wild hunting or poaching.
“What the two men did was an environmental disaster and it should be addressed without any room for leniency or complacency,” he said.
“All forms of abuse must be resisted and eliminated to ensure there is no extinction of wildlife because of the irresponsible and outrageous behaviour of some people,” he said.
Online comments were overwhelmingly in support of action against the two men, with some people presenting religious arguments to explain their views.
“Islam is against all forms of excess and abuses and that is exactly what these two men did,” a commenter writing under the “Frustrated” moniker said.
“Hunting should be to eat according to the needs, not to show off. We are putting our trees, animals and natural resources at risk because of the reckless and anti-religious behaviour of some people.”
Magoor, in his online comments, said that he was a hunter who never exceeded his needs.
“We do go on hunting trips that usually last two or three days,” he said.
“However, it is for fun and we hunt what we need for lunch and dinner. It is a hobby and a form of distraction. Action is needed against excesses,” he said.