Karachi: 7 seized falcons released, 1 lost to delay
KARACHI: Seven of the eight falcons seized from poachers by the Sindh Wildlife department a few days back were released in the presence of a large number of schoolchildren at the Sandspit beach on Saturday morning. According to sources, the eighth one died at the department`s office due to an inordinate delay in the birds` release. The eight falcons — five male and three female — were seized in two raids, one conducted near Sukkur and the other near Karachi, last week while they were being transported to somewhere for a wildlife animals trader.
Moazam Khan, the man having in his custody four male Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), commonly known as Duck Hawk, was caught while travelling with the birds in a passenger coach. The coach was on its way to Karachi from Dera Ghazi Khan. An SWD team intercepted the bus near Sukkur on Nov 3 and seized the birds. Mr Khan was booked under and for (equivalent to FIR) and fined. The seized birds were brought to the wildlife department`s head office in the city.
The second raid was conducted on a taxi (KAM 315) near the toll plaza on the Super Highway late on Nov 5 while it was on way to the city from Shikarpur. Four falcons — one male Saker and three female Peregrine — were seized from the vehicle. The falcons were reportedly trapped in Balochistan and were supposed to be taken to a falcon trader in the city.
Responding to the Dawn`s queries, SWD conservator Hussain Bakhsh Bhaagat said that the seized falcons were brought to the department`s office for an examination by experts to see if they were infected with any disease. This is a routine procedure observed by the department before releasing any seized wild birds to ensure that they do not pose any threat of infectious diseases to their fellow species after their release.
After the examination, the birds were released near the Sandspit beach on Saturday morning in the presence of World Wide Fund–Pakistan (WWF-P) staff and a large number of schoolchildren. “Unfortunately, one of the birds died so the examination process was expedited,” he said, adding that the dead falcon would be stuffed and put on display in the department`s museum.
Both the falcon species — Peregrine and Saker — are migratory birds from the Central Asia region and regular visitors of Pakistani territories in the winter. They spend their winters in Pakistan, a relatively warmer abode for them.
The current market value of a Peregrine falcon can be gauged from the fact that a foreigner bought one recently for Rs5 million to use it in catching the internationally protected houbara bustards.
In the past, the government had issued trapping licence, trading permit, possession permit to a large number of individuals. However, the ruthless trapping of falcons witnessed in the aftermath resulted in a sharp decline in the population of the precious birds in the wild.
The government had to impose a ban on the trapping and trading of falcons a few years back. Although the government has stopped issuing licences and permits, trapping and trading of falcons is continuing, posing a serious threat to the birds` population.