Dubai: The UAE Government and policing authorities are joining forces to stem the illegal trade in endangered animals, officials said on Sunday.
Black-market activities by traffickers of rare wild animals are on notice that authorities are sharing intelligence gleaned from monitoring of questionable pet shops and online websites that offer exotic animals to UAE consumers.
Trade in rare and endangered animals or their byeproducts — such as elephant ivory tusks — has been illegal in the UAE for the last 15 years.
In an announcement on Sunday, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment said it has inked a new agreement with Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality as well as the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), “stepping up coordination in combating illegal trade in endangered species in the UAE”.
Dr. Thani Bin Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, signed an agreement with Major-General Abdullah Khalifa Al Meri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police.
The ministry also signed memorandums of understanding with TRA and Dubai Municipality.
After years of making successful inroads against wildlife smugglers in the UAE, Al Zeyoudi said in a statement that the ministry “has undertaken a series of measures to combat illegal trade in wildlife at the federal level. Affirming the commitment of the signatories to pursuing common interests, the MoUs aim to facilitate the enforcement of Federal Law No. (11) of 2002 concerning regulating and controlling the international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora.”
Shared commitments will avoid duplication in enforcement and inspections, he said.
All parties will now develop new unified standards and control mechanisms “in the field of supervision and inspection, exchange relevant information and introduce joint annual targets for combating illegal wildlife trade at the national level.”
Under the terms of the Dubai Police MoU, the ministry said it “will report suspected traders in endangered species to Dubai Police”.
As for Dubai Municipality, the ministry said in a statement on Sunday that it will provide data to “municipal investigators with data on endangered, dangerous and wild animals, including the specifics of their upkeep, that can help identify suspected dealers and uncover the locations of the animals. In cases of seizure, DM will assume the responsibility for media coordination with guidance from the Ministry.”
Ahmad Abdulkarim Ahli, Assistant General Manager, Public Support Sector, Dubai Municipality, urged the public to stop purchasing illegal pets as well as products made from endangered animals and noted people can call the toll-free number 800900, which operates 24 hours a day, to file complaints.
Majed Sultan Al Mismar, Deputy Director-General of TRA, said the authority will notify social media platforms to request illegal wildlife trader posts are deleted. The TRA will also track illegal traders’ activities online.
“Social media platforms are widely used in the UAE, and we are working to ensure that they don’t turn into platforms for illegal trade in such products, and we are counting on the awareness of the public and the efforts of our partners in the public and private sectors,” Al Mismar said.
Punishment for offenders
According to Federal Law No. (11) of 2002, imprisonment and stiff fines await suspects convicted of breaching strict regulations banning trade of endangered animals.
• Article (25) — Whoever imported, exported, re-exported, introduced by sea or attempted to deal with any of the specimens of species included in the Appendix (1) without proper permits faces imprisonment of not more than six months and fines ranging from Dh10,000 to Dh50,000.
• Article (26) — Whoever exported, re-exported, introduced by sea, or attempted to deal with any of the specimens of species included in the Appendices (2&3) without proper permits faces imprisonment for a period not less than three months and fines ranging from Dh5,000 to Dh30,000.