20 MAY 2013
Attempts to bring live fighting birds through a British airport in suitcases were "astonishing", Border Force has said.
Two separate attempts to smuggle the birds into the UK were discovered at Leeds Bradford Airport. They had been placed in individual wooden cages inside the cases.
Border Force said the smugglers tried to bring in nine grey francolin birds, which are native to South Asia and often bred for fighting.
A spokesman said that on both occasions they were hidden inside suitcases belonging to passengers arriving at the airport on flights from Islamabad.
Four birds were found on May 4 and five on May 11.
Sam Bullimore, Border Force assistant director at Leeds Bradford Airport, said: "These were astonishing smuggling attempts, of a kind we have not seen before at Leeds Bradford.
"Our officers are trained to expect the unexpected, but were surprised when they realised just what the passengers were smuggling.
"It is vitally important that unregulated attempts to bring livestock into the UK are stopped, to protect the health of both animals and humans and to prevent animal cruelty."
He said information relating to these seizures was passed to Leeds City Council, which is carrying out an investigation.