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Lion, cheetah cubs seized at Jordanian border

Endangered animals seized at border crossing

By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Authorities have seized endangered animals destined for two neighbouring countries at the Kingdom’s border with Saudi Arabia, officials said on Monday.

In two separate incidents over the weekend, inspection teams at Al Omari border crossing discovered cheetah and lion cubs kept in “inhumane conditions”, according to the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).

On Friday, four lion cubs confined in two small cages were discovered in a car headed for Saudi Arabia. The following day, four cheetah cubs in two small straw baskets were found in a car from Saudi Arabia destined for Syria, said Mahdi Qatramiz, head of the RSCN’s conservation and hunting regulation section.

“The lion cubs were to be smuggled from Syria to Saudi Arabia via Jordan, while the cheetah cubs were en route from Saudi Arabia to Syria,” he told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The cubs, aged between two and three months, were being transported without any health certificates or consideration for their well-being, Qatramiz added.

“The cubs are in good health now and are being kept at an animal shelter… they will soon be sent to Africa with the help of concerned agencies,” the RSCN official said, noting that officials are currently unsure which region or country in Africa the endangered species originated from.

The 2002 Agriculture Law prohibits trade in wild animals unless a permit is issued for export or import of the animal through the Kingdom, according to the RSCN.

“Cheetahs are listed under the first appendix of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and thus are not allowed to be hunted or traded for any commercial purposes,” Qatramiz noted.

The convention is an international agreement between governments which aims to ensure that the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival, according to the CITES website.

It was drafted as a result of a resolution adopted in 1973 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Qatramiz said the lions are listed under the second appendix of CITES, which allows the trade of lions if a permit is obtained, humane travel conditions are ensured and a certificate indicating their origin and the final destination is provided.

He added that the smugglers, a Syrian and a Saudi, were referred to court for legal action.

16 February 2010

http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=24062

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

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