Pakistan foils attempt to smuggle endangered falcons
75 rare birds worth $1 million seized by Customs authorities
Customs authorities in Pakistan said on Saturday they had foiled an attempt to smuggle dozens of endangered falcons worth more than one million dollars out of the country.
Wildlife traffickers catch falcons in country's mountainous north, often to sell them for lucrative profits in the Gulf region, where hunting with the birds is a popular sport.
Customs officials seized 75 falcons and a houbara bustard at locations around Karachi in what they called an "unprecedented" anti-smuggling operation.
"The birds are listed as rare and endangered species and their trade is strictly banned," said senior customs officer Mohammed Saqif Saeed.
He did not identify the species of the birds but estimated their value to be around Rs200 million (over $1 million) on the black market.
Authorities have arrested two suspects and plan to release the birds into the wild.
The houbara bustard is a desert bird whose meat is prized among people as an aphrodisiac.
Falcons are often used by wealthy foreign hunting parties who travel to the southwestern Balochistan province every winter to catch and kill the houbara.
An earlier ban on the sport was overturned by the Supreme Court.
Two hundred rare falcons were reportedly exported to Qatar from Pakistan earlier this year on special permission.
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