BHC orders protection of the houbara bustard

Published April 19, 2015
BHC directed Secretary Forest and Wild Life to consult IUCN experts to evolve a mechanism for protection of the birds. —Creative Commons
BHC directed Secretary Forest and Wild Life to consult IUCN experts to evolve a mechanism for protection of the birds. —Creative Commons

QUETTA: Balochistan High Court (BHC) has ordered the Balochistan government to evolve a mechanism for the protection of the houbara bustards in the province.

The court directed the Secretary Forest and Wild Life to consult experts from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to evolve an effective mechanism for the protection of the rare birds.

The order was passed by a divisional bench of BHC comprising Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Ejaz Khan Swati on a constitutional petition earlier filed by former Speaker Balochistan Assembly Muhammad Aslam Bhootani.

The court had declared the hunting of houbara bustard as illegal last year and directed the provincial and federal governments to cancel allotments for hunting.

Advocate General (AG) Balochistan informed the court that the Forest and Wild Life Department had prepared a report regarding conservation of the internationally protected birds and it was also presented to the provincial government.

The number of houbara bustards in the province was on a constant decline following illegal hunting and a lack of proper feed for the birds, the report said.

Take a look: Arab royal hunts down 2,100 houbara bustards in three week safari

The BHC thus directed the Secretary Forest to consult and approach IUCN and other organisations working on conversation of nature and prepare a proper mechanism in this regard. The court further directed the Secretary to form a committee comprising experts till next hearing of the petition.

Conservator of the Wild Life informed the court that following court order, hunting of Houbara had declined across the province. The court subsequently adjourned the hearing for three weeks.

It was reported earlier in February that a Saudi prince had arrived in Balochistan on a Houbara hunting spree, despite the court-imposed ban and government's insistence that the foreign delegation had arrived only on a diplomatic mission.

Also read: BHC bans houbara bustard hunting in Balochistan

The BHC then approached the Supreme Court to challenge a violation of its ban. However, prior to any decision on the part of the apex court, the government had allowed the Arab prince to conduct hunting of Houbara bustard in Balochistan's deserted and mountainous Chaghi district.

Read: Balochistan govt approaches SC to challenge houbara bustard ban

The annual hunt has sparked controversy in recent years because of the Houbara Bustard's dwindling numbers, with the issue also shining a spotlight on traditionally close ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the bird on its 'red list' of threatened species, estimating there are fewer than 97,000 left globally.

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