In response to yesterday’s post about the only two countries in the Middle East that offer wolves any kind of legal protection, a Kuwaiti reader forwarded a link to a story published online by Al Watan. A google translated version of the story goes like this: a young man went on a fishing trip with friends, carrying a shotgun, and was greeted by a lone wolf at the entrance of his tent one morning.
Abdullah Algelawi told the paper that the wolf or fox attacked, he wasn’t certain what kind of animal it was at first, so he proceeded to pump a pile of shotgun shells into it. Then he posed with the dead, bloodied Gray Wolf, sometimes hoisting it up, and proudly forwarded the following images to his local paper.
It is illegal for Kuwaiti citizens or resident workers to own firearms. The Muslim World League reports that this law was put in place in 2005 after a surge of Al Qaeda violence. A similar law was passed in 1992 but lawmakers refused to extend it in 1994, claiming that gun ownership is a right.
A 2007 count of civilian firearms published by Cambridge University press reveals that the rate of private gun ownership in Kuwait amounts to 24.8 firearms per 100 people, and that there are approximately 630,000 civilian guns in the country.
Kuwaiti civilians are much better armed than their security forces, according to a small arms survey published by Oxford University Press in 2006, which reveals that Kuwait’s defense forces possessed roughly 30,000 guns that year, while the police had only 8,358.
Killing animals with illegal weapons appears to be something of a pastime for certain sectors of Kuwait society.
Just a couple of weeks ago we published a disturbing story about a group of yahoos that shot and killed a dozen flamingoes and injured two, which conservationists working for K’S PATH (Kuwait Society For the Protection of Animals and Their Habitat) tried in vain to save.
While Bedouin folklore perpetuates the notion that wolves are ruthless killing machines and desert dwellers believe wolves are associated with ghosts or jinn, it’s hard to understand the threat posed by flamingoes.
Another reader from southern Saudi Arabia, Ahmed, lives in the mountains between Baha and Abah. He said that he has seen many wolves in the wild, but “sadly people carry guns just to kill them wherever they find them to protect their sheep and goats.” He adds that, “many times we see dead wolves were hanged to trees … just to show other people that someone killed a wolf.”
Ahmed recommends that people who care about wolves and the wild should contact government officials, who in turn should give financial support to locals who have sheep so that they can keep their animals in protected areas.
He believes that this action will assuage their fear of wolves snatching their goats and camels, and in turn retalitory killings will be reduced.
The Managing Director of K’S PATH, John Peaveler explained that “we are working with Kuwait Oil Company, who owns and administers the nature preserve [where the flamingos were shot last month], to prevent poaching in the area. However, we cannot make all of the necessary changes that will curb the tide of habitat destruction and eradication of wildlife currently effecting Kuwait without additional support.”
If you would like to see an end to these senseless killings, please contact John via [email protected].