Further statement on the Cairo
seizure of primates
In September 2001, the Egyptian Customs seized a gorilla and a chimpanzee
following their arrival at Cairo without the necessary CITES permits.
The Egyptian veterinary service decided to dispose of the animals
by drowning for fear of health risks.
A large number of individuals and organizations understandably
expressed concern regarding the manner in which the incident was
dealt with. I contacted the authorities in Egypt and the Minister
of Agriculture ordered an investigation of the case.
I have now been advised by Egyptian authorities of the outcome
of this investigation.
The woman who was in possession of the animals was handed over
to the Police and the case is subject to legal proceedings by the
District Attorney Office. A formal letter was sent by the CITES
Management Authority of Egypt to the airline on which the woman
and animals travelled from Nigeria to Egypt. The airline has been
made aware of the provisions of the Convention and of the Ministerial
Decrees of Egypt relating to illegal trade and importation of endangered
species. The airline has been requested to distribute the information
to its offices worldwide.
Egypt has passed information on the case to the authorities in
Nigeria, who have also started an investigation.
Lastly, the authorities in Egypt have collated information relating
to institutions and rescue centres that may be appropriate places
to transfer seized and confiscated live animals to in future.
I am grateful to Egypt for its response and to those persons who
expressed an interest in this matter. I am also pleased that the
involvement of the CITES Secretariat appears to have helped in resolving
some of the aspects that were causing concern.
An interesting idea put forward by a number of animal welfare organizations
has been for them to develop guidelines for the humane disposal
of confiscated animals and to collect and make available data on
rescue centres and their ability to house animals. Obviously the
CITES Secretariat would fully cooperate in making this kind of information
available to the Parties to the Convention.