KARACHI: The Sindh wildlife department on Thursday auctioned 24 out of 25 permits for hunting two local ungulate species under the trophy hunting programme 2021-2022.

For foreigners, a single permit for hunting an urial and ibex fetched the licence fee of $14,000 and $5,600 each, respectively. Nineteen permits were given to foreigners. One permit could not be auctioned.

Five permits for hunting an ibex were auctioned to Pakistanis.

“A tough competition among Pakistanis helped the department fetch the licence fee of Rs420,000 for a single permit. The minimum price for a Sindh ibex trophy for Pakistanis was Rs300,000,” said Sindh Wildlife Chief Conservator Javed Ahmed Mahar. He added that the conservation status of both species was of ‘least concern’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list.

According to him, permits were offered to outfitters representing foreign hunters at the minimum fee set by the government due to a lack of competition.

Eighty per cent of the proceeds will go to Kohistan Conservancy representing the area’s community and 20 per cent to the government as regulation charges.

The hunting for foreigners is planned in the Surjan and Sumbak game reserves and for Pakistanis in Eri and Hothiano game reserves. The season will start in November and continue till March.

Wildlife experts believe that the population of ibex and urial, along with other wild species, has dwindled over the past few years in these reserves mainly due to infrastructural development lacking ecological corridors.

According to a survey conducted by the Kohistan Conservancy, the population of Sindh Ibex has grown from 829 in 2018 to 1,040 in this year and that of urial from 389 in 2018 to 502 this year. Older records are not available.

Wildlife department officials, however, justify trophy hunting, arguing that it is neither a case of generating income nor of excess population as the process involves only old age trophies and the aim is to directly benefit the community through the quota allotted to the province.

The community, they say, is free to spend money according to its decision and play a role in wildlife protection.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2021

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