‘Wildlife officials trying to sell pricey falcons secretly’

KARACHI: The officials of Sindh Wildlife Department are hiding the news of recently confiscated precious hunting falcons at Karachi Airport, sources of the department told Daily Times on Thursday, claiming that these falcons have a price of Rs 5 million in the open market and the wildlife department officials are trying to sell these costly birds secretly. However, provincial conservator, Sindh Wildlife Department denied such allegation and claimed that his department has registered the case and soon these falcons would be deported.

Sources in the wildlife department on the conditions of anonymity disclosed to the Daily Times that five days ago, officials of Pakistan Customs confiscated a lot of 5 precious hunting falcons, four of them are peregrine species of falcons, from a Dubai based flight.

These falcons were being carried to Nushki, Balochistan for hunting the endangered Houbara Bustard.

The two persons carrying the birds have all the required documents including passports of the falcons and clearance from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) but they did not have a NOC from the Ministry of Interior, Pakistan, therefore Pakistan Customs official confiscated the birds. These birds belong to Dubai based hunter Saalim Shaikh.

“Instead of deporting, according to Pakistan Customs laws, the official handed over the birds to the officials of Sindh Wildlife Department and wildlife officials took the bird and kept them in Sindh Wildlife Museum at the office of the provincial conservator, which is in violation of Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance, 1972, which clearly says that wildlife officials may keep the protected wildlife if they found it in the field,” said sources, adding that wildlife officials are now finding someone who may purchase the birds. “Till Thursday evening, no any case was registered and also wildlife department had hid the news from the media,” said sources.

While on contact, provincial conservator, Sindh Wildlife Department, Taj Muhammad Shaikh confirmed the news that Pakistan Customs confiscated the birds and handed them over to the wildlife department. He also claimed that his department has already launched a First Offense Report (FOR) (a type of case that wildlife department registered for any wildlife related crime). However, when asked about the number of FOR and sections mentioned in the FOR, he said that “he is out of the office” and “does not remember the FOR Number”.

“We have kept the birds in our office with two locks on the door-keys of one lock are with the owner of the birds and other key is with wildlife department’s official, so that no one can open the door alone” said Shaikh. He also rejected the allegation that Wildlife officials are going to the sale the bird.

“They don’t have official’s permission to take the bird into Pakistan, therefore, we wrote to different ministers and as soon as we get permission, these birds would be deported,” claimed provincial conservator.

Published in Daily Times, February 2nd 2018.