Posted by: r.m. | March 17, 2010

yes…but will it be enforced? (still, a start)

Lebanon looks set to join a key international convention protecting endangered species and plants, a local animal welfare organization has said.

Agriculture Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan traveled to Qatar to discuss with Willem Wijnstekers, the secretary feneral of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the possibility of signing up, Animals Lebanon’s co-founder and vice president Maggie Shaarawi told The Daily Star on Monday.

Delegates from almost 150 countries have gathered in Doha for the March 13-25 conference, being held in the Middle East for the first time, to debate and vote on 40 proposals curbing or banning trade in endangered animals and plants. Lebanon and Bahrain are the only Arab states not to have signed the 1975 agreement, to which 175 states are party.

But Lebanon could come in from the cold as soon as 2011, according to Animals Lebanon officials who were invited to sit in on Hajj Hassan’s talks with Wijnstekers Monday. “The minister made it clear to the secretary general of CITES that he has every intention of having Lebanon join CITES within one year,” the organization’s president, Lana al-Khalil, said in a press release from Doha.

While Lebanon is technically required to monitor any trade of animals between countries that have ratified the convention, the lack of training in animal policing and rife bribery means it is an easy base for animal smugglers to import and export endangered species. Elephants, big cats and chimpanzees are just some of the species known to have been smuggled in and out of Lebanon.

Last September, a lion cub was discovered abandoned in a cage in a Beirut alleyway. The severely dehydrated animal, which had been kept illegally, died shortly after being rescued. Endangered monkeys and other species are also commonly found in unregulated pet shops or private zoos.



  1. This is one of the most moving articles you’ve ever posted!
    I’ve been recently been watching the new T.V. “Lel Nashr” program and I heard a women shouting like crazy, than when I further followed the show I understood that the women is an activist of the Animal Lebanon NGO. This activist was debating with the owner of the Monte Carlo Circus, about illegal and bad treatment of animals (cubs and lions). I further researched the topic and, I was really astonished to find out that humans could be cruel to other living creatures. They torture defenseless creatures for the entertainment of the public.
    Although the efforts of the minister of agriculture are huge, he must not take all the credits and the thanks. The one we must thank is the Animal Lebanon NGO who worked and accomplished a tremendously hard job. Thanks to its efforts and campaigns, the problem is brought to the light.
    Why the circus does is still running although it is claimed illegal? And do we really need to wait to join CITES to stop such barbarian acts? In addition why must we accept to be the cross road of illegal transportations to other countries?
    Yes we are not the only who breach the law other Arab countries have endangered parrots and other animals.
    I also support Wijnstekers by his saying that “In many countries the penalties are so minimal that they do not act as any form of deterrent. Smugglers, if punished, can just consider the penalties as ‘part of doing business’ and not something which will stop illegal trade.” So I recommend that the government provide harsher punishments for law breaches, and not only monetary but also social and environmental public jobs. However the problem happens when the virus is infecting the “source.”
    Do you punish yourself when you have no consciousness? Of course not and that’s why the NGOs are present to shade some light on such topics, and to spread awareness among people especially the educated ones.

  2. We could really encage the “heads of political power” in Lebanon and watch them fight like monkey over the “Chair”. Believe it’s so much more fun than watching Lions in a zoo or a circus!

  3. Jack, I am really impressed to see your enthusiasm! And definitely I’ll not be surprised to see you as an acticist defending animal’s right!

    Dr. Rania, I really respect you for focusing on such cases. Everyone should see and understand the effects and consequences beyond just feeling pity on the tortured animals.

    Why Lebanon did not yet join CITES? We are considered as a pathway for smuggling animals. This is not supportable anymore.

    Now, I just want to make a simple comparison between the zoos in Lebanon and those in USA. Simply by watching the Discovery channel we can notice how organized are these zoos in the states. Animals are living in conditions that simulate their environmental habitats. They are fed on time, they are routinely examined by vets. They are simply feeling home.
    On the other hand, and based on my personal experience, I had already visited more than 4 zoos and i noticed that the place those animals are living in are very unsuitable and don’t even have a low percentage of the normal conditions that an animal should get for a less than average life. Anyone could say that these animals are cept in cages that just fit them. They cannot move freely and I remember that the bear could not turn to the opposit side! Then, one can clearly see the physical appearences of these animals and confess that they are all underweight.

    Eventhough I compared Lebanon to the states but in reality even in the states there are many zoos that are not providing the appropriate conditions for the animals. But at least there is a control and lots of organization that are working for the benifit of the animals.

    Moreover, as stated in the article, there is a lack of training in animals policing and this should be fixed as soon as possible. It is really important to have expert people monitoring the animal policing.
    There are a lot of cases where animals are tortured and the current people working in this field are not trained to see the clues in the conditions of ways used to import and export animals. Then, those people don’t even know whether these animals are considered as endangered species or not.

    Finally, I just want to say that the power of politics in the one responsible for these animals crises because these zoos have a defense so strong that no one could touch them. Thus, exposing the facts on the trading of endangered species will make it easier to overcome that unfair power of politicicians that is used in the wrong place and not in the benefit of any living organism.

  4. I know that I’m not the “must love dogs” (or cats or felines) prototype, but this is out of my hands, I could not control my allergies toward feline’s saliva, in additions I have one of the worst experiences with felines and it almost got me into the hospital. However I’m the best activist, because I could not see and feel the suffering animals!

    Why do we need to join the CITES? Since there is a lack of control, how could you obey the law when there is no one to enforce it?
    As you read in the article the circus is counted illegal now, right? Well according to Zeina Karam the circus is still giving shows to a small public in Lebanon. Where are the authorities now, if you are planning to place rules, you must abide by it. And although Miss Congeniality is a comic movie, I highly agree with Sandra Bullock that “law breaches should get harsher punishments” (and also “world peace”, although “world peace” has nothing to do here.)

    Who do you think spotlighted on such problem? It is surely not the ministry but the Animal Lebanon. Take a look at the link below to see the great achievements of the Animal Lebanon NGO.

    Finally we don’t need an expert to “discover” that an animal is miserable and lives in bad conditions. Take a look at the pictures of the article below! (Follow the link)
    And we should really thank the NGOs who are pressuring the political power, and exposing the many breaches than the “powers” support.

    This quotes describes my ideas toward NGOs
    “We are the eyes of those who couldn’t see
    The ears of those who couldn’t hear,
    And the sword of those who couldn’t fight”

  5. the thing is that many of these announcements are more of a propaganda attempt to appeal to the masses rather than focusing on actual wildlife trade regulation. i am greatly pessimistic about whether or not Lebanon will actually join the CITES list since there is much smuggling of actual national animals(from the mongoose toraptors and of course finches). i just hope that this minister isn’t “blowing smoke” and some initiative at least is taken on his behalf. what we mostly need is the following through of enviromental regulations rather than the creation or following of new ones.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: