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Houbara bustard butchery

Published Apr 22, 2014 05:58am


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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.

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Comments (7) Closed

NASAH (USA) Apr 22, 2014 07:59am

This bird Is not an ordinary bird -- it is a bird on the verge of extinction -- it Is your national treasure -- it's your national duty to preserve it NOT destroy it..

Disgusted Apr 22, 2014 01:09pm

If one visits a western night club you can see how much wealth is squandered by these people in one night.

Also then visit private hospitals in major cities. Most patients from the middle east happily pay more for treatment of minor coughs and colds than all the rest of the patients pay for complicated illnesses.

This is what happens when the wealth of the country becomes personal property.

Ganga Din Apr 22, 2014 04:21pm

Remember the gift, $1.5B? That's a lotta birds.

M. Emad Apr 22, 2014 07:18pm

Why Pakistanis are so mean-minded !

Just a week ago, brotherly Saudi Arab gave $1.5 bn free gift to Pakistan. Yesterday, Saudi Princes took the trouble to directly help Pakistan by killing some farm crops destroying birds in Balochistan.

think_then_speak Apr 22, 2014 07:26pm

The hubris of Arabs aided by petrodollars is destroying the peace of human beings and environment. The should be ashamed not spare even the innocent birds. One day our coming generations would curse us for all we are leaving to them in Pakistan for a small amount of 1.5 billion dollars?

bkh Apr 22, 2014 08:27pm

Bustards are precious as Tigers in the world. It is a national shame on the country that allows them to be shot as table delicacy by the Arabs. Pakistan should make bustard a protective bird and direct the Arabs to shoot camels for their tables. Certainly Camels will provide plenty fodder.

Friendship is good without allowing of ones house plundered by the guests

Harbhajan Apr 22, 2014 10:14pm

1.5 Billions dollars for a couple of thousand birds! Its not a bad deal for Pakistan. Who cares about nation.