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Requests to increase Markhor’s trophy hunting permits declined

Updated April 20, 2019

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Unless there is a fresh survey to ascertain population of wild goats, more permits will not be granted, NA body told. — AFP/File
Unless there is a fresh survey to ascertain population of wild goats, more permits will not be granted, NA body told. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body on Friday was informed that despite pressure to increase the number of permits to trophy hunt Markhor the requests have been declined.

“The numbers of Markhor in the wild are possibly on the rise. However, unless there is a fresh census to ascertain their numbers, permits will not be increased. Surveys in the past are too old and incorrect,” an official from the Ministry of Climate Change told the National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change.

The committee at a meeting took up several issues, including the case of endangered species and measures taken by the ministry to protect them.

Unless there is a fresh survey to ascertain population of wild goats, more permits will not be granted, NA body told

The meeting was informed that the request to increase permits from 12 to 16 every year came mostly from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Licences are granted for species of Markhor found across Astore, Suleman and Kashmir regions. The members were informed that one permit could fetch more than $80,000 to $100,000 plus at auctions. The highest price at a recent auction was $110,000.

“No standardised procedure was followed in the last survey conducted in 2017-18. Most surveys, including by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other non-government organisations (NGOs), are not reliable,” the official explained.

Responding to questions about conservation, the official said there was only one successful model worldwide to protect endangered species, which was trophy hunting. According to a formula approved by the cabinet, 80 per cent of the money generated from auctions went to community development, conservation of forests, vocational training, education and healthcare and protection of the endangered species from illegal hunting and poaching.

The meeting was told that Markhor was enlisted in appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species as a threatened animal.

“There is pressure to enlist Markhor in Appendix 2 so that its hunting permits can be increased and the price of the licence to hunt it would reduce to roughly $25,000. But that will have to wait until the government is satisfied that the Markhor population is growing,” he said.

The committee also discussed the issue of banning plastic bags in the country. Chairperson Munaza Hassan of the PTI prohibited the use of documents for members in an effort to save trees.

The decision was taken after PPP MNA Shazia Marri objected literature printed for members on several copies.

“In this modern age, why is paper being used when information can be shared through emails,” Ms Marri complained. She asserted that the same should be introduced in the Senate and the National Assembly.

Taking note, the chairperson directed the ministry to share all information with members through emails immediately.

Welcoming the direction, Secretary Climate Change Hassan Nasir Jamy informed the members that plastic water bottles had already been banned in the ministry.

He also informed the meeting that planning was underway to completely ban plastic bags in the federal capital from Aug 14.

Manufacturers of plastic bags and other items have would use this time to switch to environment-friendly alternatives such as paper and bags made from cloth. He said the ministry was particularly banning oxy-biodegradable which was as harmful as an ordinary plastic bag.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2019