SHARJAH // The prices paid for exotic birds have soared across the country this year because of global restrictions on bird imports that were imposed during the avian flu epidemic of 2007, proving a boon for dealers. At the beginning of the year Ismail Abdulrahman Mansoor, a Syrian bird dealer based in Sharjah, sold 21 pairs of exotic pigeons for Dh27,000 (US$7,350), or about Dh1,300 a pair.
"But now I can sell a pair of the same birds for about Dh3,000," Mr Mansoor said, noting a price hike of more than 50 per cent in just two months. "These are special pigeons found mainly in Syria and Lebanon. But I bring my pigeons from Syria only." And pigeons are not the only exotic birds to have enjoyed a price rise. Sameer Hasi, an exotic bird seller in Dubai, also said he had seen a 10 per cent rise in the prices of his birds since the start of the year.
"A few months ago I was selling a pair of blue parrots for Dh50,000, but now I sell them for Dh55,000," he said. Dealers said prices began to creep up in the region when the world was gripped by the fear of avian flu and transporting birds across international borders was banned. The UAE lifted its last ban on bird imports in April 2008, while the Ministry of Environment and Water declared the country completely free of avian flu in February 2008.
But Mr Mansoor said that some import restrictions have persisted in many countries and continue to prevent sellers from easily importing large amounts of birds into the UAE. "Before it was bird flu, but now bird flu is over," Mr Mansoor said, adding "as long as there are not enough birds, prices will continue to go up". firstname.lastname@example.org