Only 177 countries behind the times, Lebanon has finally joined the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), The Daily Star reports.
One of the last Middle Eastern countries to get on board, Lebanon has not done well to protect the 100 or so species in the country that are supposed to be covered under CITES. But animal rights activists believe as a new signatory to the international convention, the country may now be better poised to stem the trade of illegal wildlife within its borders.
Lebanon became the 178th country to join CITES just days before the 16th conference of the parties is due to take place in Thailand. International delegations will meet in Bangkok from 3-14 March 2013 to discuss the increasingly complicated problem of protecting wildlife.
Africa’s elephants and rhinos have been getting a lot of attention in the international press recently as syndicated poaching groups grow more vigilant and organized, decimating hundreds of the last remaining populations in South Africa, Namibia and elsewhere.
But trade in unsung creatures is also problematic.
“Lebanon is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, including over 100 CITES-listed species, such as the common jackal, common wolf, red fox, common otter, jungle cat, wild cat, dalmatian pelican, black stork, greater flamingo, Eurasian spoonbill and various species of birds of prey (eagles, falcons, hawks and owls),” the CITES Secretariat announced.
CITES trade with Lebanon consists mainly of live plants, live birds, live tortoises, raw corals, reptile skins and leather products.
Lebanon will be an official signatory to the convention on 26 May, 2013.
Jason Mier, executive director of the nongovernmental organization Animals Lebanon, was among one of the numerous activists that has tirelessly encouraged the Lebanese government to step up its efforts to protect the country’s wildlife.
“Clearly there is a problem here [in Lebanon], CITES has put out information about infractions or suspicious trade of animals through Lebanon,” he told the paper.
“Now, Lebanon will be able to take a more active role in working with other countries to regulate trade and protect its own endangered species.”
Technically, only zoos, circuses, pet shops, and wildlife parks will be permitted to keep CITES-protected species, but it remains to be seen whether or not the Agriculture ministry will mobilize the necessary resources to enforce forthcoming legislation.
Meanwhile, other organizations have been petitioning to end a spate of senseless wildlife killing sprees as images of men posing with dozens of dead birds have made social media rounds.
Image of Lebanese stamp, Shutterstock