ANIMALS LEBANON has asked QCA to help publicise the following appeal to raise funds for its fight against the zoo trade. QCA has donated to this organisation in the past.
Lana El-Khalil writes:
Stopping animal abuse starts with individual animals – the dog shot while living on the streets, the cat forced to scavenge from dumpsters, the monkey displayed in a tiny cage in a pet shop. At the same time, stopping abuse starts with laws and international conventions that can prevent animals from ever ending up in these situations.
Your support has helped us close down a zoo and rescue 42 animals, highlighting the cruelty of travelling circuses, and rescue hundreds of cats and dogs over the past year. Together we made a huge difference for so many animals in such a short time, but in Lebanon it always seems that we are just ‘catching up’ and not solving the underlying problems.
There are currently no animal welfare laws in Lebanon, no formal systems of permits or licenses for zoos, and Lebanon has not joined CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Animals. The lack of these laws mean that pet shops and zoos open and close with little or no oversight, animals are subjected to abuse that is outlawed in many counties, and endangered animals are smuggled into or through Lebanon.
Saving an individual animal is rewarding, it gives immediate gratification, you know you have just saved one life. But with the lack of laws our efforts are limited and there is no legal way to help the animals that most need it.
Animals Lebanon is now taking on this more major fight and we are campaigning to ensure laws protecting animals are enacted and enforced. We will always be there for the animals that need our help, but we want to make sure as few animals as possible ever end up in terrible situations and this is exactly what our legislative campaign will do.
CITES is one of the main international conventions that protect endangered species, and Animals Lebanon was recently invited by the Ministry of Agriculture to attend a meeting in Qatar with the Minister of Agriculture, HE Dr. Hussein Al-Hajj Hassan, and Mr. Willem Wijnstekers, the Secretary-General of CITES.
More than 175 countries that are part of CITES are meeting over the next two weeks and the Ministry took this opportunity to express their strong intention to have Lebanon join. “The circus issue and the trade in lions and tigers have highlighted the urgent need to have Lebanon join CITES and protect these endangered species,” said HE Dr. Hussein Al-Hajj Hassen.
As the vast majority of countries are part of CITES, those which are not part of the convention are often used as hubs for illegal trade of endangered wildlife. By joining CITES, Lebanon will have a framework in which to regulate the trade, and more crucially, to take decisive action when animals are not moved in compliance with CITES.
The Minister made clear to the Secretary General of CITES that he has every intention of having Lebanon join CITES within one year and that he is pleased to have groups such as Animals Lebanon help accelerate the process.
Being part of CITES will help prevent the illegal trade in endangered animals, and begin to stop the supply of these animals for zoos. Animals Lebanon closed down one zoo which had existed for over ten years, but since 2005 there have been three new zoos and other ‘mini zoos’ have opened. In Lebanese law, there is no registry of zoos or system of permits and licenses and no zoo comes close to even meeting the minimum standards of the World Zoo Association or the European Zoo Association. Animals are locked in small cages with no enrichment, they are fed poorly and face a lack of veterinary expertise when they get sick.
This is one problem we can solve with your help, and a problem that needs to be faced now. Animals Lebanon is working now with the Ministry of Agriculture to draft national legislation on zoos and to ensure that zoos meet a high standard or close down. If we must accept that zoos exist, then we must insist that they meet the highest standards. We are drafting and will lobby for legislation that exceeds the minimum standards of the EU Zoo Directive and the laws of countries in the region.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Drafting these laws and working to have them enacted and enforced is a huge task and there will be many hurdles along the way. You are the first to help us when there is an animal that needs to be rescued, treated by a vet, or needs to be sent to a sanctuary. You donate and you know your money is going to directly help the animal you care about. This campaign is different and your support now will make more of a difference than you might first think. A single law has the potential to make more of a change than Animals Lebanon can on its own, it has the potential to prevent animals from ever being abused, from ever ending up in a zoo in the first place.
To begin to make Lebanon a leader in animal welfare through these laws we need your help. This campaign requires significant resources, everything from documenting the situation in Lebanon and having a law firm to draft the laws, to lobbying politicians and build community awareness.
Please, donate now and be part of the campaign to finally have animal welfare laws in Lebanon. Donations can be made through our website at www.animalslebanon.org/contribute.aspx
On behalf of every animal and all of us at Animals Lebanon, thank you for your generous support and for joining us in this historic movement.
Lana El-Khalil, President Animals Lebanon