Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Somali Islamists ban animal trade

Published: 2006/08/22 12:48:31 GMT

The Islamic courts that control large parts of Somalia have banned the export of charcoal and wild animals.

The courts warned businessmen involved in the trade that they will be dealt with firmly if arrested.

Charcoal exports have stripped areas of woodland, causing drought and soil erosion, while many wild animal species are becoming rarer.

Somali companies and individuals run the trade, with exports going mostly to the United Arab Emirates.

Birds of prey, trapped and exported live, form a significant part of the trade.

The exports have been going on since the collapse in 1991 of Somalia's last effective national government. For the past 15 years, the country has been divided between warring militias.

Some of these factions have tried to control the export of wildlife and charcoal, but with little success.

The Islamic courts and their militia who have controlled the capital, Mogadishu, since earlier this year are taking the issue more seriously, the BBC's Hassan Barise reports from the city.

Their decision to halt the trade is more likely to have an impact, particularly in Mogadishu, our correspondent says.

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