Qatar authorities have yet again warned residents against keeping exotic animals as pets after a man was recently caught trying to sell a baby chimpanzee.
The man was apprehended by a patrol from the department of environmental protection who said he was attempting to trade an endangered animal, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) said.
A photograph posted on the ministry’s website shows a small chimpanzee, dressed in what appears to be baby clothes, sitting in the front passenger seat of a vehicle.
The man was handed over to the state security agencies “to take the necessary measures,” the online statement added.
“The ministry is constantly undertaking inspections to catch such violations that are dangerous to security, safety and health of citizens and residents,” it went on.
The warning comes as officials said there’s been a recent spike in the number of incidents of people raising or trafficking predatory or rare animals to perform in shows or that are found loose in public areas.
Illegal exotic pets
Last week, an escaped tiger cub brought the Doha Expressway to a standstill as it tried to find its way off the road.
The cub was subsequently caught and the Ministry of Interior announced that its owner would face legal proceedings.
It is illegal for residents in Qatar to keep wild animals captive and to bring them into the country without a permit.
Those who are caught and charged face a maximum of six months in prison and a fine ranging from QR1,000 to QR10,000 under Qatari law, but enforcement of the law remains patchy.
Late last year, authorities warned against residents keeping baboons as pets, following reports of an increasing number of attacks by them on people.
The then-Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, now part of the MME, started called for banning the import of baboons into Qatar and limiting their proliferation by highlighting their dangers to society.
There have also been a number of reports of predatory animals such as cheetahs and lions being kept as pets.
It is illegal to internationally trade in live cheetahs, under Article III of the CITES Convention, of which Qatar and other GCC countries are signatories.
CITES has previously called on Qatar and its neighbors to enforce these regulations and to stamp out the fashion of keeping big cats and other exotic animals as pets.