Karachi: 11 falcons seized by custom officials
KARACHI: While looking for vehicles having evaded custom duty, customs officials stumbled upon and seized 11 falcons of a highly rare species, pending verification of their documents, it emerged on Tuesday. According to sources, the falcons, owned by a United Arab Emirate national, Demaithan Swaidan, were in the possession of Saeed Ahmed, a local handler son of Mohammad Afzal, living in the Dubai House, Karsaz. Responding to Dawn queries, a customs official said the flacons were caught by the staff while conducting checks for non-custom-duty paid vehicles. A permit issued by the Sindh wildlife department was surrendered by the falcons handler, which was sent for verification.
The sources said that issued in October, the SWD possession permit “Form D” shown by Saeed Ahmed authorised him to carry 10 falcons of Demaithan Swaidan for training.
Responding to Dawn queries, Sindh wildlife conservator Hussain Bux Bhaagat confirmed on Tuesday that permit No 16, dated Oct 8, was issued by his department in the name of Demithan Swaidan for 10 falcons only. He said Saeed Ahmed was allowed to train the falcons till the dignitary’s arrival. Further details of the arrival of the falcons were not available in his office, the official said.
SWD sources said that possession permits were issued trade in falcons were allowed many years back. Since the trading had been banned, such permits were no longer issued, they added.
These falcons are protected under the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972 and their trade within Pakistan is prohibited.
The sources said the SWD issued such falcon possession permits only to foreign hunters — mostly royal family members of the Gulf states — who had been issued falcon re–export licences by the foreign ministry, enabling them to carry back the falcons after hunting the internationally protected houbara bustard here. Even on those re-export permits training of falcons was not allowed.
Customs authorities released into the air the seven falcons a Bahraini dignitary had tried to smuggle out a few days back.
They were released in the presence of independent observers, including representatives of the Sindh Wildlife Department, World Wide Fund for Nature, IUCN, etc, near Port Qasim on Tuesday afternoon.
The falcons were caught by the customs when they became suspicious that why the predatory birds were returning to Bahrain after an overnight stay here. When checked thoroughly, it was found that the birds had been changed — aged birds were imported and young ones were being sent out.
Customs assistant collector Rana Aftab heard the case in the presence of vice consul of the consulate general of Bahrain Jabir Ahmed, PRO Mohammad Irshad and falcon handler Sher Khan and had ordered the birds’ confiscation, which were released on Tuesday.