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19 Dec, 2007 04:38

Rare birds in danger as smuggling increases

Kamchatka peninsula in Russia's Far East is home to the largest population of merlin falcons in the world. But there's concern a growing business in bird smuggling is threatening their very existence.

The merlin falcon is on the Red List of endangered species and Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka region is crucial for its preservation.

The wild birds are now objects of desire for bird lovers. Ornithologists say Russia is an exclusive supplier of merlin falcons to the black market. Apparently most of the birds come from the country’s Far East.

Most smuggled birds are sold to Arabic countries where falconry is a traditional pastime and merlins are in great demand.

The authorities are now investigating all possible channels of bird smuggling to stop the depressing trend.