New law will end captive possession of exotic wildlife in the UAE

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A long awaited change to laws regulating captive possession of exotic wildlife in the UAE was announced this week as the Federal National Council on Tuesday passed a draft law that will stop individuals from owning wild and other domesticated but dangerous animals such as lions, tigers, cheetahs, apes and monkeys, as well as pit bulls, mastiffs and Japanese Tosa dogs, reports the Gulf News.

The law is meant to stop people from unlicensed dealing and ownership of all types of wild and domesticated but dangerous animals. The law, however, requires final approval by President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan before it will take effect.

Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, told the House the law shows the UAE’s unwavering commitment towards ending illegal wildlife trade.

The draft law includes tough penalties for offenders of up to life imprisonment and/or a Dh1 million fine ($272,000US).

The new law stipulates for those who use an animal to attack people and the assault causes death will face life imprisonment. In the event the attack causes a disability, a prison term of up to seven years will be imposed. If other minor injuries are inflicted, a prison term of not more than a year and a fine of up to Dh10,000 ($2,700US) will be given and for those who use animals to terrorize people will face a jail term and/or a range of fines from Dh10,000 to Dh400,000 ($2,700 to $109,000US).

In November 2014, a new law was introduced in Sharjah which prohibits the trade and possession of exotic wild animals. Breeding was also banned.

The new law also stipulates that most wild animals cannot be reared as pets since they are vulnerable to unpredictable behavioral changes that could go out of control.

It also details measures for the registration of all types of imported animals, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) certificates and official vet certificates issued in the UAE.

Once enforced, the new law gives owners of exotic wild animals six months to adjust their legal status by handing over these animals to authorities.

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