Born to be wild: Wildlife department raids falcon hunting camp in Charsadda

Confiscates equipment used in netting Saker and Peregrine falcons.

Riaz Ahmad October 02, 2013
When the falcons attack, hunters trap them using nets. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: A team of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Wildlife Department raided a falcon hunting camp in Shadbara village of Charsadda on Wednesday and confiscated several smaller birds used as prey to catch falcons.

Wildlife Subdivisional Forest Officer Sardar Ali Khan told The Express Tribune the department received a tip-off about a camp set up by a group of falcon hunters near the bank of Kabul River in Shabdara, following which he assembled a team and raided the location.

The hunters, however, managed to escape, leaving behind their motorcycles, nets, pigeons and other small birds used to lure the falcons into traps. “We have destroyed the camp and taken everything into custody. An FIR has been registered against the hunters under Sections 11 and 15 of the Wildlife Act, 1975,” Khan added.

“The netting of endangered Saker and Peregrine falcons along with all other types of falcons is completely banned in the country and we have launched a drive against those who hunt them,” the forest officer said.

Khan explained pigeons or smaller falcons are normally used as prey to attract Saker falcons. When the falcons attack, hunters trap them using nets. “These hunters were just trying their luck and had not managed to catch a Saker yet,” claimed Khan, adding the hunters would be fined Rs300,000 when and if they are apprehended.

According to Khan, most of the Saker falcons are netted in Afghanistan, China and Russia and then transported to Peshawar where visiting Arab sheikhs purchase them because falconry is a centuries-old tradition in Arab society.

“A large Peregrine or Saker falcon can fetch as much as Rs10 million, but such large birds are becoming rare because of overhunting,” he said.

Earlier last month, four Saker Falcons were recovered by the K-P Wildlife Department from Kohat Road near Badhaber. However, the man attempting to smuggle them in a passenger coach managed to flee. Officials speculated the accused was taking the birds to UAE via Karachi.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2013.


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