Attempt to smuggle endangered falcons worth $1m foiled

Updated 18 Oct 2020

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Karachi: Customs officials display the confiscated falcons here on Saturday. — AP
Karachi: Customs officials display the confiscated falcons here on Saturday. — AP

KARACHI: Authorities said on Saturday they had foiled an attempt to smuggle dozens of endangered falcons worth more than one million dollars out of Pakistan.

Wildlife traffickers catch falcons in the country’s mountainous north, often to sell them for lucrative profits in the Gulf region, where hunting with the birds is a popular sport.

Customs officials seized 75 falcons and a houbara bustard at locations around Karachi in what they called an “unprecedented” anti-smuggling operation.

“The birds are listed as rare and endangered species and their trade is strictly banned,” said senior customs officer Mohammad Saqif Saeed.

He did not identify the species of the birds but estimated their value to be around Rs200m (over $1m) on the black market.

Authorities have arrested two suspects and plan to release the birds into the wild.

Falcons are often used by wealthy hunting parties from the Gulf who travel to Balochistan every winter to catch and kill the houbara.

An earlier ban on the sport was overturned by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2020