RAWALPINDI, April 11: The Punjab wildlife department has filed an appeal with the district and sessions judge seeking permission to release the falcons recovered from the custody of a smuggler in October and kept at Lahore zoo, saying the Siberian migratory birds will not survive the hot summer in Pakistan.

The court is likely to take up the appeal on Tuesday.

On October 14 last year, 52 falcons were recovered from the possession of Mazhar Ali Shah as he tried to smuggle them to Qatar from the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

A magistrate later ordered that the birds should be kept in judicial custody at Lahore zoo as there were no facilities for their safekeeping in Rawalpindi. The magistrate awarded Mazhar two-year's imprisonment for keeping the birds without a licence and trying to smuggle them.

“Out of the 52 falcons, 16 have already died as the wildlife department lacked facilities for safekeeping of the birds,” the department said in its appeal filed through Sheikh Mohammad Suleman Advocate.

“We have requested the court to order the handing over of the birds to the wildlife department for setting them free. The birds usually return to Siberia in March as they cannot bear the heat of Pakistan,” said the lawyer.

Meanwhile, on the request of the wildlife department the Lahore High Court's Rawalpindi bench on Monday suspended the local court's order allowing Mazhar to get the custody of the falcons.

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