Qatar royals given special permits to import 200 falcons

Published December 9, 2015
In this photo, a Emirati man holds a falcon at an Abu Dhabi hunting exhibition. — AFP/File
In this photo, a Emirati man holds a falcon at an Abu Dhabi hunting exhibition. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The federal government is learnt to have issued special permits to the emir of Qatar, his father and a brother to import and re-export 200 falcons of highly rare and endangered species for moulting purposes during the current year.

Moulting is a natural process during which falcons shed their aged feathers and re-grow young feathers.

Conservationists fear there were high chances that the falcons could be changed by hunters during their stay in the country and, therefore, such permits should not be issued.

According to sources, the migratory falcons – saker and peregrine – are used by Arabs to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard, whose meat is considered to be an aphrodisiac, though not supported by any scientific research.

The sources said the permits issued (on Nov 16) by the foreign ministry allowed Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, to import and then re-export 100 falcons, his father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani 50 and brother Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani 50 falcons.

This is the first time that the import-cum-export permits for falcons for moulting purposes have been issued to Arab dignitaries. Earlier, the government used to issue special permits to Arab royals to bring in their own falcons to hunt houbara bustard in Pakistan.

According to the sources, the hunters are accused of bringing in aged flock of falcons and replacing them with younger ones during their stay/hunt in Pakistan. They said that all paper work, including photographs of falcons, their passports and entry to the country, were carried out, but since customs officials had limited knowledge about wildlife, they didn’t bother to check if the young falcons were taken out of the country.

The conservationists have been demanding of the government to use advanced technology to counter the lack of knowledge or connivance of custom officials and allow entry into the country only those falcons which have microchip implanted on them. Details of the microchip can be easily examined through a scanner.

The sources said the only method currently being used by the customs to check and ensure that the same bird was being taken out of the country was photographs, measurements and physical checking of the bird. This method is of no use because after the shedding of old feathers and growth of new feathers during the moulting process a falcon looks/measures different and its physical examination becomes even more doubtful.

The conservationists urged the government not to issue import-cum-re-export permits because the falcons could undergo their natural moulting process while staying in their abodes in the Arabian Peninsula.

If the falcons were changed by the hunters during their stay here, they said, the country would be violating the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, which controlled and monitored the international travel of the rare and endangered species.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2015

Opinion

A velvet glove

A velvet glove

The general didn’t have an easy task when he took over, but in retrospect, he managed it rather well.

Editorial

Updated 24 May, 2022

Marching in May

MORE unrest. That is the forecast for the weeks ahead as the PTI formally proceeds with its planned march on...
24 May, 2022

Policy rate hike

THE State Bank has raised its policy rate by 150bps to 13.75pc, hoping that its latest monetary-tightening action...
24 May, 2022

Questionable campaign

OVER the past couple of days, a number of cases have been registered in different parts of the country against...
23 May, 2022

Defection rulings

By setting aside the existing law to prescribe their own solutions, the institutions haven't really solved the crisis at hand.
23 May, 2022

Spirit of the law

WOMEN’S right to inheritance is often galling for their male relatives in our patriarchal society. However, with...
23 May, 2022

Blaming others

BLAMING the nebulous ‘foreign hand’ for creating trouble within our borders is an age-old method used by the...