A Qatari national was arrested at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore for allegedly trying to smuggle nine falcons worth more than Rs50 million, DawnNews reported on Tuesday.

The director general of the Punjab Wildlife Department, Khalid Ghayas Khan, said the suspect, Ahmed Hussain Ali Muhammad-ul-Saada, had hidden the falcons in a large black bag. He was arrested by a Vigilance Police squad deployed at the airport.

The wildlife department has issued a challan to Muhammad-ul-Saada in accordance with the Punjab Wildlife Act 1974, said Khan.

Khan said the head of the Vigilance squad, Deputy Director Gujranwala Abdul Shakoor Manj, took action after he received a "secret tip" about the man. The Airport Security Force also assisted the police in arresting the suspect.

The DG assured that the Punjab Wildlife Department will continue to foil plans that endanger wildlife in the province.

Nearly 5,000 to 6,000 falcons are trapped and smuggled out of Pakistan every year and sold to sheikhs in the Middle East.

Falcons migrate thousands of miles to escape the harsh winters of Siberia, making stops for rests and continuing on their journey to warmer regions in the south.

“The rate at which falcons are trapped is so high that international conferences have been called in the recent past to find solutions to the massive decline in falcon populations in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan,” according to a senior official of the climate change ministry.

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