The illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products is a billion dollar industry with evidence to suggest that wildlife criminals are also linked to the smuggling of weapons and drugs.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), is the main international convention which regulates the trade of endangered species. Lebanon, Iraq and Bahrain are the only three countries in the Middle East which haven't joined this important convention.
Animals such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, chimpanzees, gray parrots and even an elephant have been smuggled into or through Lebanon in recent years. These animals end up in unregulated zoos, in private collections, or as exotic pets, and many endangered species can be seen for sale at pet shops throughout Lebanon.
Thousands of birds of various species are smuggled through Lebanon annually. A recent shipment of 120 gray parrots from Lebanon was confiscated in Bulgaria after it was shown that the documents were incorrect and possibly falsified. The animals were not fit to travel, and soon after confiscation more than half of the 120 birds died of disease.
The Ministry has issued documents stating that all chimpanzees in Lebanon are here illegally, but government led confiscations have failed and the chimpanzees remain on display.
In March, 2010, Animals Lebanon was invited by the Minister of Agriculture to the CITES conference held in Qatar. We took part in the meeting between the Minister and the Secretary General of CITES and were pleased that the Minister formally announced that he intends to have Lebanon join CITES as soon as possible.
We believe this is a positive first step, but continued work must be done to ensure that the Ministers declaration is followed through and Lebanon joins the 175 countries already part of CITES.
What you can do
Learn more by visiting the CITES website (www.cites.org) or the INTERPOL Widlife Crime website.
We strongly encourage people not to keep endangered species in private homes. Do not buy these animals from pet shops. Even if you buy them because you feel sorry they are such a miserable condition and want to free them from the shop, you are only encouraging the trade and a new animal will replace the one you purchased.
Do not buy ivory, skins or other animal parts, and please report them to us when you see them for sale.