The Guardia Civil, in the framework of the Operation Pihuelas, has intervened 23 birds of prey of different species, and a green monkey. There are eight people under investigation as suspected perpetrators of crimes against flora, fauna, and natural resources, in addition to falsehood documentary.
This operation has been developed by the SEPRONA within the fight against the plundering in the natural environment of birds of prey and eggs for export and/or to be used by breeders, in addition to verify the lawful origin of the trade of birds of prey in the balearic islands.
Once analyzed all the available information and identified the leading breeders and owners of birds of prey of this community, began the inspections, many of them run simultaneously, in which counted with the collaboration of the inspectors of the Territorial administrations of Commerce of Barcelona, Alicante and Valencia.
Inspections have been done in centres of the towns of Esporles, Algaida, Cala Murada, Felanitx and in the Airport and Port of Palma, on the island of Mallorca. In them have been verified, the requirements to be fulfilled by the facilities for the breeding of these birds, as well as the documentation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which must accompany each of the specimens of birds of prey throughout his life.
We also have analyzed numerous data obtained from different official bodies, relating to the high and low of these species in the territory of the community and have studied the submissions of prey between the islands and different points of the Spanish geography.
Stresses the inspection to be effected in a zoo centre of the region of Es Raiguer, where were located a large number of birds of prey and on which were operated two eagles, bonelli for alleged forgery of the document CITES one of them, and manipulation of the ring of the other.
In this same center were also tapped three golden eagles and a mono green by deficiencies in the documentation that covers your lawful source, as well as two white-bellied sea eagles Steller. In addition, it was discovered that a plantation of 142 marijuana plants, which was restored, and we proceeded to the arrest of a person as an alleged perpetrator of a crime against public health.
The bonelli’s eagle is a species that is extinct in Mallorca in the 70’s and is currently developing a reintroduction program of this eagle on the island. The project, of name Life Bonelli, is funded with european funds, and the species is listed as vulnerable in the National Catalogue of Endangered Species.
This seizure is the first adult specimens in Spain. It is a species highly demanded for their exclusivity, as they are not bred in captivity except in rare cases in some european centres. Each copy is valued between 9,000 and 15,000 euros, depending on your sex.
The operation resulted in the seizure of 11 peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus), 2 eagles, bonelli’s (Hieraaetus fasciatus), 3 golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), 1 goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), 4 kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), 2 white-bellied sea eagles Steller’s (Haliaeetus pelagicus) and 1 green monkey (Chlorocebus aethiops). The set is valued at more than 82,000 euros and all the species are catalogued with the highest level of protection.
Between the years 2013 and 2016 had been in Spain 22 hawks, 2 golden eagles, 10 azores, but no bonelli’s eagle, so that this operation constitutes one of the major interventions of the indigenous species national (bonelli’s eagle and peregrine falcon), at the european level.
Analysis of DNA
During the inspection we checked the validity of the documents presented by owners and are verified by both the data contained in the CITES management authorities in Spain, as in the CITES authorities of Germany, Belgium, Uk, Czech Republic and Austria.
Simultaneously, we took samples of DNA from some specimens, consisting of the extraction of feathers for later analysis and comparison with that of the alleged parent. The location of such parent resulted, in many instances, extremely complex and labor-intensive, due to the precarious control documentary that showed some breeders of his staff, precariousness sought with the object of hindering the work inspector. To finish we checked the authenticity of the rings, as well as its possible manipulation to simulate a lawful provenance of birds of prey facts.
For the realization of all these efforts has been critical to the collaboration provided by the Directorate General of Inspection, Certification and Technical Assistance of Foreign Trade belonging to the Directorate General of International Trade and Investment, as well as, for different Territorial divisions. He has also collaborated with the Consortium for the Recovery of the Fauna of The Balearic Islands (COFIB).