Smuggling is not just a crime, it’s cruelty too

A Saker falcon like the one recently found in a traveler's suitcase.Security officials in Kyrgyzstan arrested an Iraqi man who planned to take a flight to Dubai after X-ray screening revealed there were four Saker falcons in his suitcase.

The Saker is a large falcon that breeds from Eastern Europe eastwards across Asia to Manchuria and is prized by Arab falconers.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species lists the falcon as a vulnerable species.

Kyrgyzstan is an established route through which Saker falcons are smuggled into the Gulf.  Transporting the birds without authorized papers violates two provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The first is that the smuggler did not have the proper CITES documents to export the falcons. The second is that the birds were transported in a suitcase without concern for their welfare.

It takes almost four hours to fly from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital, to Dubai. In that time, the falcons probably would not have survived smuggled in a suitcase. We’ve seen cases where the falcons die or arrive in such poor condition that they die within a few days.

It’s hard to say just how much the smuggler would have earned from this illegal trade. There are a number of factors that determine price such as the age of the bird and its health.

What’s clear however, is that smuggling of animals in a suitcase is a severe act of cruelty and it shows just how little some traders care for the pain and suffering of these animals. They only care for the profits that may gain.

We always call for implementing the penalties in the law with imprisonment of three months for violating CITES rules, and three months for violating the animal welfare law, not just for smuggling the animals.

-- EM

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