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26.01.2022 20:26 News >> Dozens Of Rare Falcons Seized In Pakistan Die: Officials

Dozens Of Rare Falcons Seized In Pakistan Die: Officials

Falcons supposed to get smuggled to Gulf states for falconry were seized in October last year.

Dozens of rare falcons seized by Pakistani authorities have died over the past four months, officials confirmed on Wednesday.
The ill-fated falcons were seized by the customs authorities in two separate raids in an upscale neighborhood in the port city of Karachi in October last year, Javed Mahar, chief conservator of the Wildlife Department of southern Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, told Anadolu Agency.
Of 75 falcons, and a houbara bustard, which were supposed to be smuggled to the Gulf states for falconry sport, 70 have died, whereas the condition of the remaining five predatory birds is also critical, Mahar said.
The dead birds included peregrine, saker, and Bahri falcons, he added.
A case pertaining to the proprietorship of the falcons has been pending in a Karachi court since last October as the three accused detained during the raids claim to be the "legal" owner of the birds.
"Their (falcons') condition was already very bad. They were kept blindfolded in small cages and dingy rooms with their wings sealed with scotch tape, "a senior customs official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to speak to the media.
Most of the birds died during the hot weather. In Karachi, weather remains hot and sultry in October with temperatures climb to over 40 degrees Celsius.
"We did our best to have them survived but unfortunately they did not," he said.
"We appealed to the court to either let us free the birds or transport them to a cold region like Gilgit to protect them from searing heat," he said, referring to scenic northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, which borders neighboring China.
Supporting the official's contention, Mahar said the Sindh Wildlife Department too pointed out during the hearing that the birds might die due to severe heat.
According to the custom official, the accused had produced a "fake license" in the court to stop the proposed shifting of birds to Gilgit-Baltistan.
The dead birds have been frozen as "they cannot be buried until the disposal of the case," the official said.
The three accused are on bail.

Endangered species
Hamera Aisha, a Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) official, said that poaching and hunting stand as a permanent threat to all species of falcons in the country.
The bird, declared endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, hails from northern Europe and the Russian Arctic but migrates to warmer countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh during the winter.
Another kind of falcon known as Bahri or Shaheen, which means "of the ocean" in Arabic, is found near lakes and coastal areas.
The Shaheen is Pakistan's national symbol.
The birds are sold to wealthy Arabs who train them for falconry – a centuries-old art of hunting wild prey with trained falcons and hawks.
Several birds die during air or sea travel because of poor handling.
The female falcon – stronger and bigger than the male – is the prime choice for buyers. An ordinary bird is sold for 700,000 to 1.2 million Pakistani rupees ($3,966 to $6,798).
Some independent estimates say there has been a 50 to 60% decline in the number of falcons in Pakistan in the last decade.
According to the wildlife experts, around 6,000 falcons – 70% of them Bahris – are smuggled to the Middle East every year.
The government has placed life-sized billboards at airports warning against the smuggling of Bahri falcons but penalties remain relatively light when measured against the potential rewards.
The maximum punishment for a smuggler is a 50,000 rupee ($284) fine or a six-month jail term – a degree of deterrent that Raja said undermined protection efforts.
Trained falcons are used for hunting the endangered houbara bustard that is also found in southwestern Pakistan. The chicken-sized bustard is largely hunted by rich Arabs who consider its meat an aphrodisiac.
Arab royals frequently visit Pakistan at the invitation of local politicians and government officials, who arrange hunting safaris for them.
In 2015, Pakistan's top court ordered a blanket ban on the hunting of rare birds and animals. However, the ban was partially lifted in 2016 after the government filed a petition arguing that hunting formed the "cornerstone" of diplomatic ties with Middle Eastern countries. -



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