Houbara bustard butchery

Published April 22, 2014

NEWS of the Gulf Arab royals taking over large swathes of territory in Pakistan to hunt the vulnerable houbara bustard is not new. Despite some local outcry over hunting of the endangered bird, moneyed foreigners, aided by officialdom, continue to indulge in the blood sport, with some individuals killing hundreds of houbaras per trip, making a mockery of conservation efforts. As a news item, based on a report by the Balochistan forest and wildlife department, pointed out in this paper, some months ago a Saudi prince hunted around 2,000 birds along with members of his entourage in Balochistan. The prince hunted 1,977 birds while those accompanying him hunted 123 birds during a 21-day expedition in January. While the ‘special permits’ issued by the federal government only allow the holder (and not those accompanying him) to hunt up to 100 houbara bustards in 10 days, simple arithmetic suggests that the bag limit was exceeded by a wide margin. Apparently, the hunters also ventured into protected areas. This is not an isolated incident. Similar violations are reported nearly every year involving both royalty and influential commoners from several Gulf sheikhdoms. Locals in areas where the houbara is hunted are more than eager to help the foreign visitors as they are amply rewarded in cash and kind for their efforts.

Yet the main responsibility for allowing the wanton, yearly massacre of the houbara bustard lies with the state, specifically the foreign ministry, as it issues the permits. The state might want to prove its hospitality to its foreign friends who want to hunt in Pakistan, but surely not at the price of violating local laws and international covenants designed to protect endangered wildlife. The issuance of permits by the centre despite devolution of the wildlife department has also been raised. It is indeed ironic that while some in the Gulf are working to protect the houbara bustard in their own countries, our government seems to care little when it comes to well-connected foreigners decimating the local bird population.

Opinion

Editorial

Punjab crisis
01 Dec, 2022

Punjab crisis

ADMINISTRATIVE chaos has ruled Punjab ever since the ouster of the PTI government in April, deepening the...
Quetta attack
01 Dec, 2022

Quetta attack

It would be foolishness of the highest order were the authorities to ignore the emerging threat.
World AIDS Day
01 Dec, 2022

World AIDS Day

AS countries mark World AIDS Day on Dec 1, a timely report from Unicef has renewed concerns about the severe...
A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...