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Iraq steps up efforts to stop smuggling of rare species

Smuggling rare animal species out of Iraq has become common due to lax enforcement of laws and the country's security situation, but the federal government is making renewed efforts to halt the smuggling.
A falcon perches on a Bedouin hunter's arm during a hunt in a desert south of Samawa, 270 km (160 miles) south of Baghdad November 30, 2007. Picture taken November 30, 2007.    REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen     (IRAQ) - GM1DWSRKRDAA
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Iraq's Ministry of Health and Environment released 20 falcons back into the wild Nov. 17. The falcons had been smuggled earlier in the month to Kuwait, which returned them to Iraq. This incident is but one example of the systematic smuggling of rare birds and animals out of the country, and the authorities are working to better enforce existing laws and adding security measures.

“The lack of surveillance on the vast, open borders as well as the rampant corruption at the ports make such operations both possible and profitable for smugglers and merchants,” an officer in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.

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