Saudi authorities seize three lions in raid on private home

Those caught in possession of endangered wildlife could face a fine of up to 30 million riyals

Two of the animals seized by Saudi authorities. Photo: @SFES_SKA via Twitter
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Saudi authorities arrested a citizen for possessing endangered wildlife and breaching environment laws.

The Special Forces for Environmental Security (SFES) seized three lions during a raid on a property in a Riyadh district, the country's press agency said on Wednesday.

The owner was referred to the prosecutors for the trafficking of endangered animals.

Officials said they would house the animals with the National Centre for Wildlife Development.

The penalty for breaking laws regarding the possession of endangered wildlife is a fine of up to 30 million riyals ($8 million) and imprisonment for up to 10 years, or one of the two penalties, according to the SFES.

Despite that, social media accounts continue to show off rare and exotic animals in private zoos and on the passenger seats of luxury cars.

The Arabian Gulf is a centre of illegal smuggling of exotic animals.

A 2018 review on smuggling through air transport networks revealed that between 2009 and 2017 the UAE had the third-highest number of trafficking cases in the world.

Since then, private ownership has been outlawed and seized animals were housed with local zoos such as Dubai Safari park.

Experts who have been working on the global wildlife trafficking trade said that cash generated by the illegal trade in rare and endangered species is funnelled back to support organised crime and terrorism across the region.

Updated: June 08, 2022, 10:48 AM