KARACHI - Ten days after confiscating falcons being brought from Qatar by a member of its royal family “without proper documentation”, Pakistan Customs authorities finally agreed to hand over the precious birds to the Sindh Wildlife Department on Sunday, but the latter has refused to accept them alleging that Customs officials have replaced the original birds with a lower quality breed. “The Customs officials have agreed to hand over the falcons to us, but the market value of the birds that they have estimated is much higher than what they are worth and that is why we have refused to accept them,” said an official of the Wildlife Department, requesting anonymity. “The Customs authorities have estimated that the market value of the 53 falcons is Rs 18.7 million, but we think that they are not worth more than Rs 8.7 million, so we have asked them to re-estimate the value,” the official added.
Pakistan Customs officials had confiscated around 98 falcons from a visiting member of Qatar’s royal family. However, they returned 24 falcons to the foreigner, saying that he had permission for those birds and asked them to produce legal documents for the rest within three days. As per law, Customs authorities are bound to hand over the detained birds to the Wildlife Department within three days, but they contined to keep the birds for 10 consecutive days. Sources privy to the matter said that Customs officials negotiated with the owner of the birds so that an “understanding” could be reached. After having their “palms greased”, the Customs authorities replaced two dozens of the falcons with a lower quality breed and then decided to give them into the custody of the Wildlife Department.
“These are not the birds that were originally detained,” claimed the Wildlife Department official. Pakistan Customs spokesman Qamar Thalo told Pakistan Today that he was unaware of the issue. “I do not look after matters of detained birds, so I cannot comment on it,” he said.