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 Thursday, 9 January, 2003, 21:35 GMT
Arab hunters spark anger in Niger
Nomads in the Niger desert
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world

Animal rights campaigners in Niger are protesting against the government's decision to allow groups of visitors from the Gulf to hunt protected animal and bird species.

African elephants
Elephants are in jeopardy too
They have lodged a formal complaint with the government, which has said it was paid $300,000 to allow the hunting of endangered species of gazelle and birds of prey.

A ban on hunting these species has been in force for a year.

But government officials in Niger say the ban can be lifted temporarily if a waiver fee is paid.

'Massive destruction'

The annual hunt launched in Niger last week has sparked off protests amongst the population and the local press.

Ordinary people in the capital, Niamey, have expressed great anger at the government, who they accuse of imposing restrictions and hunting permits on the people of Niger, many of whom are very poor.

Royal parties from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been hunting on a large scale.

Carte blanche

Environmentalists say the commercial hunting will soon lead to the massive destruction of animals in the regions of Tahoua and Agadez, in the north, and Diffa, in the far east of the country.

President Mamadou Tandja
People accuse the authorities of double standards

The Gulf princes have been using big-calibre guns and cargo planes to carry the booties and live game to their respective countries in spite of the restrictions on hunting in Niger, Ibrahim Sani, a spokesman for environmentalist party RSV Niima says.

The war-like hunting operations have given rise to vehement protests in Niger.

In response to the criticism, a spokesman for the Ministry of animal resources and the environment, Abdou Mamane, said that the Arab guests had paid $300,000 to get carte blanche to hunt in Niger.

See also:

29 Jan 01 | Africa
06 Jul 02 | Country profiles
25 Feb 02 | Africa
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