Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

White lion cub and two tiger cubs seized in Sharjah

The exotic animals were being sold online illegally

The lion and tiger cubs seized by authorities. Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
The lion and tiger cubs seized by authorities. Environment and Protected Areas Authority.

A White lion cub and two cub tigers were among five animals seized by officials in Sharjah after being illegally offered for sale online.

The exotic species, which UAE residents are banned from owning privately, were found by a team of animal protection officers.

Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, director-general of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority, revealed on Wednesday that two monkeys had also been discovered in the raid.

She said her officers had arrested a suspect in connection with the attempted sale after receiving a tip off from a member of the public.

The lion and tiger cubs seized by authorities. Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
The lion and tiger cubs seized by authorities. Environment and Protected Areas Authority.

The man had initially been put under surveillance before authorities were able to correctly identify what animals he was holding.

“We receive complaints about wild animals being housed in homes but it takes two to three months to ensure the complaints are not malicious,” she said.

“After obtaining a warrant from prosecutors we confiscated the animals with help from the police’s special task unit.

“We constantly work to curb these violations and have previously confiscated four lions, one lioness, three pythons and two crocodiles, in addition to other wild animals.”

White lions are a rare colour mutation of the Southern African lion. They are born blonde or white owing to a recessive gene and are particularly sought after by smugglers.

In 2018, more than 142 exotic animals including tigers, cheetahs and snakes were rescued from private homes in Sharjah.

Surprisingly, the figure represented a 66 per cent drop from the total of 422 dangerous animals recovered in 2017.

It is not yet known what species of monkey were seized by officers or which country any of the animals were smuggled from.

Two monkeys seized by officials. The Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
Two monkeys seized by officials. The Environment and Protected Areas Authority.

It is unlikely the animals were bred in the UAE, with the Middle East long being a recognised hub for the illegal trade in exotic species.

Under existing law, any private individual caught trading or breeding dangerous animals can be fined Dh100,000. The penalty is doubled for a repeat offence. Public and private zoos are exempt from the ban.

Updated: September 4, 2019 04:56 PM

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