Dubai ruler allowed to export two falcons without permit
KARACHI: The federal government has allowed the “export” of two falcons of endangered species to the United Arab Emirates for Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum without even issuing an export permit, it emerged here on Monday.
According to sources, Pakistan cannot issue export permits for falcons as this is not only against the local wildlife protection laws but also in violation of various nature conservation conventions and agreements signed by the country which ban export of rare species.
They said that the country had been issuing export permits to Gulf dignitaries in violation of local laws as well as its international commitments, but in this case even the export permit had not been issued and the falcons were allowed to be taken out of the country just on an undertaking.
The sources said that the country by violating its international nature conservation related commitments was also putting at risk the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus facility worth billions of euros given to it by the European Union.
The sources said that the Dubai ruler had already been issued a special permit (No: DCP(P&I) – 18/6/2015 – 16 / Falcons / UAE dated Oct 12, 2015) by the foreign ministry to export 25 falcons earlier, but now he wanted two more birds, and even sent his representative from Dubai to Karachi to take the predators to him without a permit.
A letter written by the UAE embassy in Islamabad on Friday morning was sufficient as it not only moved with the speed of light and passed through various government departments but also empowered a UAE national to take out the falcons from Karachi to Dubai in the evening.
The Nov 13, 2015 communication of the UAE embassy to the federal government was on the subject of “undertaking for export of 02 falcons belonging to Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president / prime minister of UAE and ruler of Dubai”.
The letter says, “the embassy would like to inform that 20 falcons have already been exported to UAE by the Emirates Airlines from Karachi airport vide aforementioned export permission at the same time Sheikh Mohammad’s special envoy Mohammad Thani Ahmad Aldelail Alremeithi has arrived from the office of His Highness to carry further 07 falcons.
“However, the embassy is left with 05 falcons only from the aforementioned export permission, where as export permission for 02 falcons was in process with the ministry of foreign affairs vide embassy request No: 2/1/3-EP – 2010 dated Nov 13, 2015.”
The embassy communication further says that the seven falcons shall be carried by 48-year-old Mohammad Thani Ahmad Aldelail Alreheithi “travelling on UAE passport No: N8R242700 by Emirates Airlines EK-609 at 1935 hours today (Nov 13, 2015) from Karachi airport to Dubai. The officials concerned may kindly be informed to facilitate at Karachi airport.”
The embassy gave the undertaking that the export permission for the two falcons would be submitted when it was received from the ministry. The falcons were allowed to be taken out of the country as desired by the UAE embassy without the export permission.
The sources said that Arab hunters used the rare migratory falcons — saker and peregrine –– to hunt the internationally protected houbara bustard.
Residents of colder central Asian regions saker and peregrine falcons migrate southwards to spend their winters in warmer environment here.
The sources said that trading in, trapping and export of saker and peregrine falcons were banned under wildlife protection laws in the country and there were no designated markets for trade of the predatory birds. A falcon costs between Rs10 million and Rs100m in the black market.
The Pakistan Trade Control of Fauna and Flora Act 2012 bans trade (import, export) of saker and peregrine falcons.
The sources said that though Pakistan was a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) that monitored international travel of wildlife species, it did not pass on any information relating to the trans-boundary travel –– between Pakistan and the states on the Arabian peninsula –– of the saker and peregrine falcons to the CITES secretariat in Switzerland, though it was binding on the signatories.
Pakistan is also a signatory to the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) — an intergovernmental treaty aimed at conserving terrestrial, marine and avian species over whole of their migratory range. The CMS signatories have recently adopted the saker falcon global action plan to protect the predatory bird at a meeting held in Ecuador.
The sources said that Pakistan had also been given free access to the highly lucrative European markets worth billions of Euros under the GSP Plus facility. The status is subject to honouring by Pakistan of about 30 international treaties, particularly those relating to environment, nature conservation and wildlife protection such as the CMS, CITES etc.
If a country failed to follow the guidelines provided in these international treaties, it can lose the GSP Plus status and free access to the European markets. The EU reviews Pakistan’s performance periodically to see if it is following the conditions and not violating its international commitments. The next such review is due in the next few weeks, added the sources.
Recently Saudi Prince Fahd, who is governor of Tabuk province, was also issued a special permit to export the rare migratory falcons from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. He had attracted global attention last year when news of his having hunted 2,100 houbara bustards in Balochistan’s Chagai district appeared in the media.