Ras Al Khaimah Customs foils houbara smuggling bid

Ahmed Shaaban/senior Reporter
Filed on December 10, 2014
Ras Al Khaimah Customs foils houbara smuggling bid

Suspect held at border checkpoint with 26 rare birds carefully hidden in plastic and paper packets in his vehicle.

Ras Al Khaimah Customs foils houbara smuggling bid (/assets/oldimages/houbara0812.jpg)

The Ras Al Khaimah Customs has foiled a bid to smuggle endangered houbara birds into the UAE through the Ras Al Darah land checkpoint bordering Oman.

According to a top official, a Gulf citizen implicated in the crime was hiding the birds, which are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, in his car while coming from Oman to the UAE.

Dr Mohammed Abdullah Al Mahrizi, Director-General of the RAK Customs, said a female staff inspector noticed the suspect’s nervousness and anxiety by his body language.

“When manually searching his 4WD vehicle, the inspector found 26 alive rare Houbara Bustard carefully hidden in plastic and paper packets.”

The birds, which the man was planning to sell for a good amount, were recovered from the front as well as the back seats, he added.

The driver assumed that the border checkpoint was busy during the UAE 43rd National Day holiday and that he would take advantage of the crowded place to smuggle the rare breed of birds into the UAE, Dr Mahrizi elaborated.

“He thought his vehicle would pass through the border checkpost without being thoroughly inspected, particularly as he kept the vehicle’s trunk empty, but his attempt was thwarted due to the diligence and vigilance of the inspector.”

The birds seized were handed over to the Shaikh Khalifa Houbara Breeding Centre, Abu Dhabi, while the suspect was referred to the law enforcement authorities for further investigation and legal action.

“The suspect will be interrogated by the RAK Police and other authorities concerned,” he affirmed.

Al Mahrizi urged tourists and visitors to abide by the set rules and regulations.

“The houbara, a well-known hallmark of Emirati culture, has a wingspan of about 1.5 metres, with males weighing about 2.2kg and females 1.2kg.

The International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) Abu Dhabi, late in September this year, announced that it has bred more than 46,000 Houbara Bustards this year, a record number for the organisation since the breeding programme began in 1996.

Protection of the houbara bustards was also the focus of a new five-year education plan unveiled by the IFHC and the Abu Dhabi Education Council on November 16 this year.

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