NAWABSHAH: A team of hunters belonging to the Saudi royal family was booked under first offence report (FOR) by wildlife department officials at Nawabshah airport on Thursday after two falcons were seized from them by the area police. Some highly placed official intervened to get the falcons returned to them but only after payment of Rs100,000 fine “for hunting birds after the official end of the [hunting] season”.

The seven-member team led by Jalbi bin Saud bin Abdullah arrived at the airport with the two trained falcons to board a private plane to return home but police seized the birds. The team argued with the police but could not convince them. The police handed over the seized birds to the local wildlife officials, who registered an FOR (11710) against the team. While the team kept insisting on return of the birds to them, the matter was conveyed to a highly placed official, who helped the team get back the falcons. However, the wildlife officials handed over the birds to the team only on payment of Rs100,000 as fine. They said the team hunted birds with the falcons in violation of the prescribed rules, which prohibited such activity after official end of the hunting season in Sindh.

Airport officials were quoted as saying that they first asked the team for the specific permission to take away the falcons but the Saudi team instead tried to browbeat them.

The situation turned tense and officials from the district administration and Airport police station, as well as wildlife department, rushed to the airport to settle the matter, they added.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2018