The illegal hawk trade has a long history in Pakistan, but it has grown in recent years. Last October, there was a seizure by Pakistani customs, a rather spectacular seizure, since they found 75 falcons, as well as a Houbara bustard, a bird threatened with extinction. The birds were found in different residences in the city of Karachi, they were to be smuggled out of the country. The total amount of this catch has been estimated at more than a million dollars.
According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, 700 falcons were illegally captured and released from Pakistan last year. Behind these captures, there is a whole network of organized crime, which is particularly active in winter, since it is at this time of the year that the falcons migrate from Siberia to the south of Pakistan, where it is warmer. . This is where the Arabian Sea is located and where poachers operate. Glue, nets, baits: everyone has their own techniques for catching the prized raptors.
Falcon hunting is strictly prohibited in Pakistan. But there is a whole black market, since the demand is very important and it comes from the Gulf countries, where falconry is an ancestral tradition. There, the price of a falcon varies from 4,000 euros to 200,000 euros. There are even falcon competitions, at regional and international level, organized every year, in Saudi Arabia, but also in Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar. The goal is to elect the fastest hawks in the world.
The fight against poaching and hawk trafficking exists, as this seizure in October showed. But there are many privileges, especially for members of the royal families of the Gulf. Pakistani justice gives personal authorizations to purchase falcons, but also to hunt endangered bird species. This is the case with the houbara bustard. It is forbidden to hunt this wader in semi-desert areas, but very recently, the Pakistani authorities have granted exceptional hunting permits to dignitaries of the Gulf. This has also aroused strong criticism from some observers. It should be remembered that Pakistani public opinion was shocked in 2014, when a Saudi emir killed 2,100 bustards in 21 days in southwest Pakistan.
If there are these privileges, it is because there is a financial and political dependence of Pakistan vis-à-vis the Gulf countries, in particular Saudi Arabia and the Eunited arab mirats. These countries have been providing large loans to Pakistan for several years. Pakistani soldiers and politicians also maintain privileged relations with the Gulf countries. Many families, who belong to the elite in Pakistan, for example, have invested heavily in real estate in Dubai.
Relations, although ambiguous between Riyadh and Islamabad, are all the same historical. Let us recall, for example, that in 1998, Pakistan carried out its first nuclear tests. A few days later, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was allowed to visit the nuclear enrichment facilities, located in Rawalpindi, south of the capital of Pakistan. He is the only foreign dignitary to have had access to it.