x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dh10,000 fine for keeping wild animals

Anyone caught with wild animals in Ajman can be fined Dh10,000 amid a clampdown on people keeping wild animals and reptiles in their home.

AJMAN // Public health chiefs in Ajman cracked down hard yesterday on people caught with wild animals and reptiles in their home.

Offenders face a Dh10,000 fine and confiscation of the animal. They may also have to pay compensation to anyone the animal injures.

Teams of inspectors are touring residential areas looking for animals and reptiles such as snakes, crocodiles, monkeys and lizards.

"A number of people had complained to the municipality after being injured or frightened by a wild animal in their neighbourhood," said Khalid Al Hosni, executive director of the Environment and Public Health department at the municipality.

"There is also a nuisance to public health as some of these animals carry diseases that can easily be transmitted to people."

Investigators will also research niche markets for rare and exotic animals, and track down the sellers. "All the efforts are to provide a safe environment for residents, and to keep the animals in the proper places," said Humaid Al Mualla, director general of the department.

"Some people violate the animals' rights in the way they keep them at home."

In July last year a two-year-old girl had to be rescued by a housemaid as she was attacked by a lion cub bred privately in the family's neighbourhood in Ajman. Sarah Salem Al Saeed suffered bruising, and recovered after hospital treatment.

At the time, the child's father said he would not seek compensation or sue the owner of the cub, but he urged authorities to be more vigilant about the breeding of such animals in residential areas.

Before that incident, several monkeys and snakes were found on the streets in Ajman. They were humanely captured, and taken to wild animal centres.

In Sharjah last year, a female cheetah was found prowling the streets and taken into quarantine for seven weeks at the emirate's Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife.

The new crackdown in Ajman follows a decree by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, chairman of Ajman Municipality and Planning Directorate.

The municipality is also co-operating with Ajman Education Zone to help create awareness of animal rights, and of the dangers of keeping wildlife in homes with people.

The awareness campaigns will take several different tacks, including outreach in residential areas and teaching students about the topic in schools.

ykakande@thenational.ae