Saudi wildlife officials are taking a stand against what the nation's environmental agency has called a new form of "terrorism." Following the circulation of a disturbing photo on social media this week, which shows several men standing proudly with guns before a truck bed-full of poached lizards, the chairman of the Saudi Wildlife Commission, Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al Saud, came out full-force against wildlife crime.
"This is a crime against the environment and an outrageous violation of our Islamic values that reject such attitudes," Bandar told the news site Sabq, according to the Gulf News. "Poaching is also against all laws enacted by the kingdom to protect and preserve wildlife and natural assets. Attacking people is a form of terrorism and so is abusing animals."
The spiny tailed lizards shown in the photo, known as "dhabi," are key to biodiversity in the gulf region, but the animals' numbers have gone down drastically in the past decade. "They have been victims of wild hunting in the last few years, often in large quantities, and there are today regions where they can no longer be seen," said Abdullah Al Qhidani, a Saudi environmental activist. "What the two men did was an environmental disaster and it should be addressed without any room for leniency or complacency."