Eight falcons seized by the Tunisian customs at Ben Guerdane in southeastern Tunisia, near the border with Libya.
From their appearances, we can see that most of them are Gyrfalcons (Falco rusticolus) and maybe one or two Saker Falcons (Falco cherrug). Some could even be a hybrid between these two species. Comments on the ID are welcome!
Related: Huge number of wild-caught Lanner Falcons held in captivity in Libya (ready to enter the illegal trade).
On 22 January 2019, a patrol of the customs guards at Ben Guerdane intercepted a vehicle carrying eight falcons. The two Tunisian men who were on board the vehicle were taken into custody.
According to their confession cited by the Tunisian News Agency, they were instructed to transport the falcons to Gafsa in order to hand them over to a third individual. The latter, in turn, would have to smuggle the falcons across the border to Algeria.
According to a statement by the Tunisian customs, the two suspects allegedly introduced the falcons to Tunisia through Saharan smuggling circuits. The seized falcons, valued at 400 000 Tunisian dinars [about 133 800 USD / 117 500 EUR], were handed over to the regional services of the Ministry of Agriculture (specifically to the hunting services at Medenine, where the video and the photos were taken).
Falcons can be smuggled using many methods
In a peculiar case, a car accident lead the customs to discover six smuggled falcons. The accident of a smugglers’ car happened on 14 November 2018 in the Tataouine region, southern Tunisia.
In addition to a cargo of dried fruit, the customs found also six falcons equipped with transmitters and other equipment in the car. Three people were injured and three of the falcons died in the accident. These were qualified as ‘rare falcons’ which means were without a doubt Gyrfalcons.