KARACHI, Oct 11: Sindh wildlife department officials on Thursday caught an illegal wildlife trader and confiscated 16 internationally protected houbara bustards found in his possession.

A case was registered against the trader, while the highly rare species birds would be released on Friday, officials said.

Since the houbara bustards are highly rare migratory birds, they are protected not only under various international conservation conventions but also under the local laws including the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance.

Responding to Dawn queries, Karachi game warden Shahabuddin Burfat said that he and his team comprising Naeem Khan, Shoukat Mangrio and others acting on a tip-off raided the house of Amir Mustafa in Hasrat Mohani Colony in Bara Board near Golimar and confiscated the 16 houbara bustards found there.He said that a first offence report (the Sindh wildlife department’s equivalent to police’s first information report) — FOR No 29/492, dated Oct 11, 2012 — had been registered and action would be initiated against the illegal wildlife trader.

He said that the rare migratory birds would be released in the Khirthar National Park in the presence of independent observers on Friday.

Residents of the colder central Asian regions, the internationally protected houbara bustards migrate southwards to the subcontinent to spend their winters in the relatively warm environment here.

Being sought after by the Arab falconers, the houbaras are trapped in large numbers and easily fetch Rs25,000 while in the Gulf states each bird could easily fetch $1,000.

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