Six Saker Falcons, an endangered species, were seized by the police late on Wednesday.
A team of the wildlife department along with Faqirabad police raided a house in Changarabad where the birds were found. Three people were arrested on charges of illegally netting the rare birds, whose capture and trade is banned across the world.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, sub-divisional forest officer wildlife (SDFO) Sardar Ali said they had received reports that the accused were involved in netting the Saker and Peregrine falcons for some time in different parts of the province.
“We have found six Saker Falcons in the house and these birds have been netted recently in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” he said, adding that three people identified as Sher Muhammad, Saeedullah and Bashir had been arrested and put behind bars.
“These birds are being netted on a very large scale due to their high demand in Gulf countries as Saker is the traditional bird used in Arab falconry,” he said, adding that eagles and hawks were also being netted in Pakistan but they have no market value.
“Eagles and sparrow hawks are not being used in falconry because they cannot hunt Houbara Bustards - a traditional desert game bird - as eagles are too large and slow while hawks are too small to hunt,” he argued, adding that eagles were used locally to hunt grouse but on a very limited scale. Netting grouse is also illegal.
Nearly two weeks ago, four Saker Falcons were recovered by the wildlife department from a man attempting to smuggle them to Karachi by road.
Ali added a large-scale crackdown is being carried out in Peshawar and Charsadda against hunting grounds for falcons. So far, six such camps have been abolished.
Peshawar has the largest black market of Saker Falcons in the world. The trade dates back to when Arabs came to the area for conquest and started transporting these birds to their homelands. Due to high demand, locals later started capturing and trading falcons too.
The Saker is the world’s second largest falcon, smaller than the polar Gyr Falcon and larger than the globally distributed Peregrine.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ