Algeria: Princes and poachers, Saudis hunting bustards

Meat reported to have aphrodisiac powers, controversy

08 February, 15:32

Bustards risk extinction Bustards risk extinction

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS - All are equal under the law, or at least should be in every country in the world, but exceptions are clearly made for the rich, or rather the very rich. Algeria for example has always been very strict in the field of animal protection. If you are an Algerian citizen and you are caught poaching with some old shotgun, you could end up in prison for several years. But if you are a Saudi sheikh and you love to try the ancient art of falconry, then everything changes. This is in fact happening in Dhayet Bellegwmiri, 20 kilometres from Hassi-Delaa, where a vast camp has been set up in a very short time. The well-equipped camp is occupied by a group of noble Saudis who love hunting with their falcons. Their favourite pray animals are bustards (large migratory birds that come to North Africa from Europe to winter) and gazelles. Their equipment gives them quite an edge over their possible victims: off-road vehicles able to drive fast on the sandy terrain; GPS, telescopes and more cutting-edge technology. They also use sophisticated communication systems and field kitchens, a far cry from the way common people in Algeria hunt. According to newspaper La Liberte', which has denounced the situation quoting its own sources, nearly all assistants of the Saudi princes are Yemenite nationals, while the Saudis have hired locals who know the hunting grounds well to guide them to their pray. But the nationality of the dozens of armed men who protect the Saudi princes is unclear. Algerian animal protection activists have underlined that hunting the targeted species is absolutely forbidden in the area, as well as hunting other species on the endangered list. But local residents have pointed out that the mad hunt on bustards has a very ''human'' motive. The meet of this large wader, particularly its heart and liver, are thought to be highly aphrodisiac, as much as the famous coloured pills. But the hunted animals, like the bustard and many gazelle species living in Algeria, are protected by Algerian legislation. But pecunia non olet ("money does not stink'') and apparently it is easy to turn a blind eye to an activity that is still poaching, but one that brings in a lot of money. (ANSAmed).

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