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PESHAWAR: The wildlife department seized eight precious falcons and released nine others here on Wednesday.

An official statement said eight falcons were recovered from a car on Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway.

It added that Shaheen Ali of Tank and Mohammad Ibrahim of Dera Ismail Khan travelling to Islamabad in the car were taken in custody on the charge of transporting eight endangered birds. The statement said the two men were booked under the KP Wildlife and Biodiversity (Protection, Preservation and management) Act, 2015.

Official claims seized birds were to be smuggled out of country

An official claimed that the birds were to be smuggled out of the country. The endangered species, especially falcons, are often smuggled to Gulf States.

Poachers trap falcons in the highlands of Malakand, Hazara, and Gilgit-Baltistan areas bordering China.

Meanwhile, the wildlife department freed nine falcons during a special ceremony at the Pakistan Forest Institute.

Environment minister Ishtiaq Urmar was the chief guest on the occasion, where senior officials of the department were also present. The department had seized nine falcons of saker and peregrine categories at the Bacha Khan International Airport on Oct 30.

Chief conservator (wildlife) Safdar Ali Shah told Dawn that the birds were brought in from Qatar, while officials of the department with the collaboration of the customs seized the consignment. He said the carrier told officials during interrogation that unidentified people had handed over the birds to him at a Qatari airport.

He said the department seized birds, while the carrier was released on the payment of Rs300,000 fine in line with the Wildlife Act, 2015.

The chief conservator said falcons had been declared endangered species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which had banned their trapping and transportation.

An official told Dawn that the market value of seized birds was around Rs20 million, while the consignment allegedly belonged to a member of the royal family.

He claimed that the carrier didn’t possess any NOC and the birds were apparently transported for hunting purpose.

The official said the department contacted the Qatari embassy for verification but didn’t get response.

When asked, the chief conservator expressed ignorance about whether seized falcons belonged to the royal family.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018

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