Conor Sheils uncovers an illicit exotic animal trading ring, as two shady dealers offer him rhinos, tigers and more, as well as revealing their previous deals with Giza Zoo.
Heartless animal traders affiliated with Giza Zoo are making a killing by smuggling endangered animals, a CairoScene investigation has found. Exotic Animals Egypt is a shady collective of front men for African animal dealers kidnapping endangered species from the heartland of sub-Saharan Africa and shipping them to events and private buyers in upscale areas of Cairo.
The firm offered our reporter, posing as a foreign owner of a circus about to enter the Egyptian market, rare animals including a rhino, baby lions and endangered tigers. The sickening scheme can net dealers millions of LE without a shred of regard for animal welfare or conditions. When asked by our reporter if owning a full grown lion in Egypt would require a permit or animal welfare checks, the owner 'Maged' scoffed before mocking Egypt's inability to crackdown on animal crime. "No, the police in Egypt have a lot more to worry about than animals at the moment. There is no risk for you - you don't pay until we give you your animals," he said, quickly.
Wild animal trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Hours earlier we spoke with the Maged's partner, 'Omar' who callously boasted that the pair could arrange a 'menu' of endangered animals for a price. He said: "We have everything from rhinos, elephants to monkies and baby lions. A rhino is quite expensive around one million LE, a tiger goes for around 250,000 LE and the lions are cheaper because they are more available here in Egypt. We have baby lions at the holding farm in Abu Rawash right now."
Though Omar and Megad refused to give the exact location of their storage facility, Abu Rawash is an area filled with industrial sites, factories and large scale constructions still in progresss. The unfortunate animals helf there are believed to come from sub-saharan African countries including Kenya and Uganda. "Any animal that we don't have here in Egypt we can order in 2-3 weeks. We don't have any problems with permits or licensing. We just don't ask questions," Omar added.
Even more shockingly, Omar claims that the murky operation has even supplied animals to Giza Zoo. He said: ""Any requests we get from customers we ask Megad and he delivers on demand.He supplies Giza Zoo, he got Hyenas for them and a giraffe." Like his colleague Omar again boasted that the Egyptian authorities would do little to save the defenceless animals. He said: "I personally owned monkies, four different types of snake and the police didn't give me any trouble. The police have bigger problems as far as I'm concerned."
Within hours, one of the men expressed an interest in meeting our reporter with a view to importing animals including lions and a rhino. We politely declined.
When contacted by CairoScene again, neither of the men wished to comment on the allegations of the illegality of their operations. Giza Zoo was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.