The quest for peace and human rights in the Middle East has been an international effort for decades. While these lofty endeavors continue, world leaders are currently taking time to address the treatment of animals in the war-torn region.
When signatories of the United Nations' Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meet in Qatar this month, it will mark the first time the group convenes in an Arab country, the Associated Press reports.
Delegates at the conference are urging Lebanon and Bahrain to join, in an attempt to curb what is estimated to be the largest illegal trade in the region, next to weapons and guns.
"Much of the illegal trade that takes place here is of a specialized nature," John Sellar, CITES' chief enforcement officer, told the news source, citing the exchange of prize falcons.
He added, "We've also seen some smuggling of very exotic species, like very rare parrots, young chimpanzees, gorillas and leopards that seem to be for the private collections of some rich individuals in the Gulf area."
Aside from issues of widespread smuggling in Lebanon, the law mandates that anyone who purposely harms an animal must pay the paltry fine of $15.
CITES was established in 1973, and now consists of delegates from 175 countries.