As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Afghans Hail Effort To Protect Rare Raptors From Smugglers

Afghan authorities are welcoming a foreign-based NGO's actions to help curb a runaway trade in smuggled exotic birds from Afghanistan
An Afghan man with a falcon at a 
refugee camp near Radja Bahoudine.

The group, Nada Al-Sheba Lel-Hayat Al-Bariya from United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), invited journalists to an event to mark the freeing on March 17 of 30 such birds near the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif.

The animals had been seized from smugglers in the Middle East, where reports on such trafficking from South Asia suggest there is high demand for birds of prey and other exotic animals among the very wealthy.

Last year alone, some 5,000 wild birds were smuggled out of Afghanistan, according to the head of the country's Environmental Protection Agency, Mustafa Zahir. Falcons, hawks, and geese are said to be among the smugglers' favorites.

The most highly prized falcons can reportedly sell for as much as $100,000.

Afghan authorities are constrained by budget limitations and other obstacles to enforcement after decades of war and hardship, with infrastructure, security, and rebuilding projects generally regarded as more urgent priorities.

So Zahir was in Mazar-e Sharif on March 17 to lend government support to a newly launched wildlife protection center.

"Unfortunately, the smuggling of birds that is continuing from Afghanistan must stop," Zahir says. "In Mazar-e Sharif, in Herat, and Bamian the hunters are hunting the falcons and hawks. Most of these birds are smuggled to Gulf nations."


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