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KARACHI: 550 smuggled birds released

December 06, 2007

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KARACHI, Dec 5: An estimated 550 rare birds of various species, which were brought into the country without the required documentation and were caught at the city’s airport, have been released after the recovery of a fine that sources say is a fraction of the birds’ value, Dawn has learnt.

According to reliable sources, the fine levied amounts to some Rs0.625 million but this is a mere fraction of the price these prized birds ordinarily fetch on the open market.

The birds, including grey parrots, canaries and budgerigars, were brought into Karachi in three consignments, two from the Republique Democratique du Congo (DR Congo) and one from the Netherlands.

These birds are mentioned in Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), whose Geneva-based secretariat monitors the international movement of species listed in the CITES record. The movement of such species requires an export permit from the exporting country and an import permit or NOC from the country receiving the animals/birds.

In the case of the birds intercepted at the Quaid-i-Azam International Airport in Karachi, however, sources told Dawn that no import permits or NOCs had been obtained from the relevant authorities in Pakistan.

Cases referred to SWD

The first consignment was brought in by S.A. Kareem and Co, which is based in Jillani Centre, Karachi. The company purchased the 110 grey parrots at the rate of $5 per bird from Mponzi Kinshash Importers and Exporters, DR Congo.

The consignment, comprising two boxes weighing approximately 60 kilograms, was brought into Karachi via Bahrain by Ethiopian Airlines in the last week of November. It was intercepted by the Customs Department and the case was referred to the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD). The Karachi raid party chief of the SWD, Rasheed Ahmed, imposed a fine of Rs345,000 – or approximately Rs3,000 per bird – on the importers.

A different consignment of 100 grey parrots was brought in by Areeba Enterprises, based in Sector 11 B, North Karachi. They were purchased from Cedric Kasel of The Birds of Sunset, DR Congo. This consignment, which was comprised of two boxes weighing about 50 kilograms, was also brought into Karachi via Bahrain and arrived in the last week of November.

The clearance of this consignment was delayed for nearly a week at the Customs Air Freight Unit and an estimated 30 birds died. The SWD levied a fine of Rs225,000 on the importers.

The third consignment comprised of over 230 birds, canaries and budgerigars in various colours. These were brought in by the Karachi-based Avian Business International, which bought the birds at 0.75Euros per canary and 1Euro per budgerigar from Zwagemaker Importer and Exporters, the Netherlands.

The four-box consignment arrived in Karachi on Malaysia Airlines. The SWD, which imposed a fine of Rs58,000 – approximately Rs200 per bird – upon the importer.