Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds Bradford airport staff discover birds being smuggled into UK in suitcases

Grey Francolin
Image caption Border Force officials seized two shipments of Grey Francolin birds this month at Leeds Bradford Airport
Suitcase packed with boxes
Image caption The birds were discovered in suitcases belonging to passengers arriving from Islamabad
X-ray of suitcase
Image caption The first seizure was made on 4 May and the second a week later

Nine birds being smuggled into the UK from Pakistan inside suitcases have been rescued by Border Force staff at Leeds Bradford airport.

Officers seized two shipments of Grey Francolins, often bred for fighting, within a week earlier this month.

The birds, which are native to South Asia, had been placed in small, wooden boxes and hidden inside luggage on board flights arriving from Islamabad.

Four birds were rescued on 4 May and five more on 11 May.

Sam Bullimore, Border Force assistant director at Leeds Bradford Airport, said: "These were astonishing smuggling attempts, of a kind we have not seen before at Leeds Bradford.

"Our officers are trained to expect the unexpected, but were surprised when they realised just what the passengers were smuggling.

"It is vitally important that unregulated attempts to bring livestock into the UK are stopped - to protect the health of both animals and humans and to prevent animal cruelty."

Leeds City Council is investigating the two incidents.

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