KARACHI: The federal government has issued special permit to Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum for the export of 150 rare falcons from Pakistan to Dubai during 2019-20 season, it is learnt reliably.
According to highly placed sources, the highly rare falcons species — saker and peregrine — are used by Arab hunters to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard.
The sources said that Arabs needed some young falcons so that they could hunt houbara bustards more efficiently.
Residents of the colder Central Asian region, houbara bustards to avoid harsh weather conditions in their habitat migrate every year southwards to spend the winter in a relatively warmer environment in Pakistan.
Falcons are protected under various international nature conservation conventions, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). Trade in falcons is banned under local wildlife protection laws.
The sources said that in the absence of legally trapped falcons and legal wildlife (falcon) traders “falcon exporters” purchase illegally trapped falcons from wildlife traders operating in the black underground wildlife markets.
They said the export of rare falcons to Dubai would encourage illegal wildlife trade in the country.
The sources said that the trans-boundary movement of falcons was monitored closely by the Switzerland-based CITES and Pakistan is a signatory to that convention and has to follow it.
The sources said that besides violating various international nature conservation agreements as well as local wildlife protection laws the government by issuing falcon export permit to the Dubai ruler was also putting at risk the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status given to it by the European Union under which its exports have easy access to highly lucrative multi-billion European market.
According to them, Pakistan has to observe international nature conservation treaties and if it violates these agreements the European Union, which regularly reviews the GSP Plus status given to countries to see if they are following these agreements, could strip off that facility which could seriously affect foreign exchange earnings of the country.
The sources said that the request for issuance of the export permit for 150 falcons was sent by the UAE Embassy in Islamabad and subsequently the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol Mohammad Adeel Pervaiz issued and sent the export permit (No: DCP(P&I) 2019 — 20 Falcons/UAE) to the UAE Embassy in the federal capital. The permit says that 150 falcons could be exported for the vice president and the prime minister of the UAE.
The sources said that a few days back Mr Pervaiz, also issued a special permit to Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to export 200 falcons to Qatar during season 2019-20 so that he could also change his aged falcon flock with the younger ones.
Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2020