Pakistan foils attempt to smuggle endangered falcons worth $1.2 million

Pakistan thwarted a bid to smuggle endangered birds out of the country.

Falcons thought to be worth about US$ 1.2 million on the black market.

Collector of Customs Mohammad Saqif said they were all on the endangered species list, and were being smuggled from Afghanistan to “Arab countries”.

Hunting with birds is a popular sport in a number of countries in the Middle East.

Reuters reported that 74 falcons were recovered, while AFP news agency says 75 falcons and one houbara bustard.

The meat of the houbara bustard is widely prized in the Middle East as as an aphrodisiac.

Officers from the Anti-Smuggling Organisation of Pakistan Customs learnt about the smuggling plan and raided a number of residences in the southern port city of Karachi this week, Mr Saqif said.

Two men have reportedly been arrested, and customs authorities plan to release the birds in their natural habitat.

In 2017, 80 rare birds landed in Saudi Arabia on a private commercial flight.

In 2011, Karachi authorities released 52 falcons they say were unlawfully brought into Pakistan.

Officials said a member of Qatar’s royal family brought in the birds without proper documentation.