Qatari royal caught in falcon sting in Pakistan

Some 74 birds seized from unnamed royal by custom officials in south Asian state
Qatari royal caught in falcon sting in Pakistan
A hooded hunting falcon shown on display at UAE event
By Claire Ferris-Lay
Thu 17 Nov 2011 01:10 PM

Custom
officials in Pakistan have seized 74 falcons from a Qatari royal after he tried
to transport the birds into the country without the correct documentation, it was
reported Thursday.

The
birds of prey, which include the highly prized Houbara bustard, were being
transported into the country for hunting birds and other animals, the BBC
reported.

Officials
in Karachi said the owner did not have permission to bring so many birds into
the country.  “The documentation provided by the embassy had permission
for only 40 falcons,” Qamaruddin Thalo, spokesman for the customs department
told the BBC.

The
Qatari royal had tried to bring in 114 falcons, he said. “We now have all the
birds in custody and have asked the embassy to furnish an explanation in three
days.”

Members
of GCC royal families receive special dispensation for bringing falcons into
Pakistan for hunting purposes.

“It’s
something that's illegal and unprecedented elsewhere in the world,” Dr Rab
Nawaz, local representative of the World Wildlife Federation told the BBC. “But
the Arabs sheikhs are allowed due to our 'special relationship' with them.”

Falcons,
a prized status symbol in the region, are used across the Middle East for
hunting. Centuries ago Bedouin tribesmen used the birds of prey to hunt for meat.
Today, they are national symbols of the UAE and are featured on road signs as
well as its currency.

Around
18,000 falcons are currently registered in the UAE, according to the Abu Dhabi
Environment Agency. Wealthy Gulf nationals and royals regularly gather for
hunting expeditions in Russia and Kazakhstan as well as speed races.

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