Cairo: Saudi authorities have urged people to hand over wild animals they may be keeping as pets, warning against illegal rearing of predators after a lion mauled its keeper to death last week.
On Thursday, a Saudi man in Riyadh died of serious injuries he had sustained from an attack by a lion he kept in a private residence.
A relative of the victim said he got the lion from a friend nearly two months ago and kept it in his rest house in eastern Riyadh.
The lion attacked the man early Thursday while he was offering it food, the relative told Al Arabiya TV. “His shrieks drew attention of workers at the rest house. One of them tried to hit the lion to leave its owner, but it was to no avail,” he added. Workers notified the police who shot at the predator.
An online video purportedly shows the lion dead after the incident.
Regretting the incident, the governmental Saudi National Centre for Wildlife said that keeping predators are banned in the kingdom and highly dangerous.
“Importing predators for personal or commercial purposes is banned under a royal decree. The centre has not licensed any such imports,” it said in a statement. The centre urged keepers of wild animals to contact it to arrange their handover; otherwise they will be liable to law.
The centre also called on Saudi citizens and expatriates to come forward and report about any case of rearing predators in urban areas.
The illegal purchase of wild animals is believed to have thrived due to social media where they are marketed.