KARACHI: Six Arab hunters of houbara bustard with 11 falcons were held by wildlife staffers in Thatta district early on Sunday morning for lack of hunting permits but were released later and sent back to Karachi as they had not yet started hunting the bird, it is learnt here.
Sources said the hunters from Qatar were guests of a local host associated with the wildlife department in Sujawal and had political connections.
They arrived in the area on Saturday and after having enjoyed overnight hospitality the Qatari hunters with the 11 falcons and local host camped near the Keenjhar lake. But before they could venture to hunt the bird they were stopped by the wildlife staffers.
The sources said that local police who were also helping the hunters and their host issued threats to the wildlife staffers to scare them away but they refused to let them break the law and informed high-ups about the situation.
Hyderabad deputy wildlife conservator Ghulam Mohammad Gadani told Dawn that when the wildlife staffers saw the police providing protection to the hunters instead of helping them, they called him (Mr Gadani) and he immediately contacted the Thatta police chief, who ordered the police to assist the wildlife staffers.
The official said the Qatari hunters –– who were travelling in three land cruiser jeeps and two double cabin trucks –– did have permits for the falcons but they did not possess permit to hunt houbara bustards. They were therefore asked to leave the area accompanied by wildlife staffers.
He said the hunters’ hosts were warned not to be part of such activity in future, else stern action would be taken against them. A report about the incident would be sent to the wildlife conservator on Monday, said Mr Gadani.
Houbara, a resident of colder Central Asian region, migrates southwards to avoid the harsh weather conditions at home and spend the winter in a relatively warm environment in South Asia.
The bird’s meat is considered to be an aphrodisiac and is sought after by Arab hunters who are issued special permits to hunt the internationally protected bird.
The Supreme Court had imposed a ban sometime back on the issuance of special permits to Arab hunters but recently the SC reviewed its decision and allowed the issuance of permits.
Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2016