The office of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) in Herat has expressed concerns over the continued smuggling of wild birds, especially to Iran.
According to the head of Herat’s NEPA office, Nasir Ahmad Fazli, smuggling is so prolific that even the Common Myna’s numbers have dropped.
Fazli said efforts are being made by the agency to prevent the smuggling of these birds to Iran. He said the agency has issued an order to its employees to stop the purchase and resale of the birds completely.
“The mynas in Herat are smuggled to Iran and other neighboring countries and we are concerned about it. … it can be useful for agriculture and can be used as a pet,” Fazli said.
Some members of the Herat Provincial Council meanwhile asked government to bring an end to all smuggling of Afghanistan’s birds to other countries.
“Myna’s have been smuggled to Iran and sold at a high price in the past. The trend is ongoing right now and it is concerning. Government should put an end to it,” said Ghulam Habib Hashimi, a member of Herat Provincial Council.
The Herat governor’s office said relevant departments have been directed to bring an end to this illegal trade.
“Herat administration admits that birds are being smuggled to foreign countries through the ports. They, Herat officials, are continuing their efforts to stop the smuggling of these birds,” said Jailani Farhad, a spokesman for Herat’s governor.
The smuggling of wild birds from Afghanistan has been a major concern for officials, especially those from NEPA, for many years.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society in Afghanistan, it is estimated that about 235 species of birds may breed in the country.
Other organizations have also noted that poaching has added to the pressure on the bird life in a number of provinces, including Herat.
There are no accurate statistics for birds in Herat province, but a few years ago officials told Relief Web that a dozen bird species were in danger.
Hunting bans have proved difficult to enforce and live trappers target smaller hawks up to eagles, and even the common myna - which belongs to the starling family.
According to officials the mynas are smuggled to Iran in large numbers and, according to Relief Web, can fetch $30 or $40 each, where they have a commercial value - as a way of clearing farmland of pests cheaply and effectively.
However, the smuggling of Afghan birds of prey has also been an enormous problem in recent years.
According to officials, the principal market for Afghan birds of prey appears to be the Gulf states.