Dubai Safari will rehabilitate a fox and a finger-sized monkey after they were rescued from the illegal wildlife trade by police officers in the emirate.
Two residents handed over the animals to the police’s new Environmental Crimes Division, which was set up in March to control the illegal trade and possession of exotic animals.
"This happened around two weeks ago, right after the men read about the new unit," Col Khalfan Al Jallaf, the division's head, told The National.
Dubai Municipality provides shelter, food and treatment to the rescued animals before sending them to the safari.
“Dubai Municipality co-operates with us and their officers are present during animal rescue operations,” Col Al Jallaf said.
The unit at Dubai Police also arrested a man trying to sell a wolf in May.
After getting a tip-off, police officers obtained an arrest warrant and worked undercover as potential buyers.
“The man was seeking Dh4,000 to Dh5,000 for the wolf but we don’t know where he got the animal from,” Col Al Jallaf said.
He is out on bail and has been referred to prosecutors on charges of trying to sell a wild animal.
“The offender may face a prison term and/or a fine of Dh50,000 to Dh500,000.”
Col Al Jallaf said cases of the illegal trade of exotic animals can be reported by calling 901. People can call 990 to report urgent cases, such as a wild animal on the loose.
“There will be a dedicated email address soon, but reports can also be lodged through the website of Dubai Police,” he said.
“If, for example, a person sees his neighbour has a wild animal, the report can either be made through email or by calling 901.
“The new unit was set up after an increase in cases of possessing and trading in exotic animals was recorded.”
Col Al Jallaf said many owners flaunt the animals on social media. Sellers also scout buyers on such platforms.
“A number of studies were conducted to confirm if there was a need for launching a new division before it was officially set up in March this year,” he said.
“The incident about the black cat that was thought to be a wild animal in May expedited the operations.
“I urge the public to report any incidents they come across of owning, breeding or selling exotic animals.”
Col Al Jallaf said most offenders were unaware of the rules.
“This is why we are currently planning a series of campaigns, lectures and other events to raise awareness about UAE laws concerning exotic animals and wildlife,” he said.