A joint operation between the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Environment and Animals Lebanon succeeded in confiscating an illegally held hyena.
The hyena, now named May, was kept by a small pet shop in the city of Saida in southern Lebanon.
Animals Lebanon received so many complaints about this hyena that we approached the Minister of Environment H.E. Mohamad Rahhal to take immediate action.
The pictures we showed the Minister were horrific. A wild caught hyena kept for four years in a tiny cage barely big enough for her to turn around. The cage was in an empty piece of land next to the pet shop, exposed to the rain and cold. Her jaw was broken and she was forced to sit on the pile of trash that had built up in her cage over the years.
The Minister investigated the case and asked the Ministry of Interior to confiscate the hyena with the help of Animals Lebanon.
"In line with principals, with the law and with the request of concerned environmental associations, and in seeking to promote biodiversity and to show Lebanon as civilized, we hope that the necessary actions be taken to save this hyena by confiscation," stated the letter from Minister Rahhal.
On 17 March, the Minister of Interior approved the confiscated, instructing the police to act urgently.
Early the next morning we met with the Mayor of Saida to go over the plan. Police escorted us to the location and entered the property before giving the approval to remove the hyena.
We knew we would have to move fast as a crowd quickly gathered when we arrived to the pet shop, but we were very lucky as the owner was not present when we arrived.
We were worried the cage was not secure as it had sat rusting for years. We wrapped it tightly with a tarp and rope, making it more secure and reducing the stress on May.
It took four men to lift the cage, the trash inside the cage weighed as much as the cage. Within 20 minutes May was loaded into a truck and free from the pet shop that had kept her for so many years.
The crowd of people had grown and the police urged us to leave quickly and to return to the police station before securing the cage.
While we were finishing procedures at the police station, the furious owner arrived. After some tense minutes of arguing it was explained that no one broke into his facilities or stole anything from him. Hyenas are a protected species and two Ministries had issued the order to confiscate.
"We are pleased that both Ministers took the plight of this hyena and the conservation of Lebanese wildlife so seriously," said Lana El Khalil, President of Animals Lebanon.
"The condition this animal was kept in was completely inadequate, she was being kept in a cage barely big enough for her to turn around, there was a large amount of trash inside the cage that had piled up over the years, and her jaw had been broken at some point and never properly treated."
According to the decision of Minister Rahhal, Animals Lebanon will continue to care for May and find an appropriate sanctuary for her.
A wildlife vet is being flown to Lebanon to treat Mays jaw, and an enclosure is being constructed so she can forget about the timeshe spent in the rusted cage.
May has a very long way to go before she her physical wounds are healed and she overcomes the neglect and abuse she has endured for the last four years.