GB trophy hunting season revenue boosts to Rs309m

Published May 13, 2024
A FOREIGNER poses with a Blue Sheep in Shimshal Valley. He secured the hunting permit after paying $33,000.—Photo by the writer
A FOREIGNER poses with a Blue Sheep in Shimshal Valley. He secured the hunting permit after paying $33,000.—Photo by the writer

GILGIT: As the Gilgit-Baltistan Trophy hunting season 2023-24 ended in April, official sources disclosed that more than Rs309 million revenue was generated during the season to protect and balance wildlife conservation with sustainable economic development.

The figure shows a growth of over Rs89 million in the annual revenue, as during the last trophy season, Rs220m revenue had been generated.

The trophy hunting season spans from November till the start of April every year.

In October 2023, the GB Forest, Parks, and Wildlife Department auctioned four licences for the hunting of the prized Astore markhor, one of which fetched a record $186,000. The licences included four for Astore markhors, 14 for blue sheep, and 88 for Himalayan ibex in various community conservation areas across Gilgit-Baltistan.

One of the four Astore markhor licences issued this season fetched record $186,000

The second highest permit for the Astore markhor was sold for $181,000, the third for $177,000, and the fourth for $171,000.

The base rate fees for blue sheep and Himalayan ibex permits were $9,000 and $5,500, respectively. Out of these, 51 Himalayan ibex, six blue sheep, and four Astore markhors were hunted by the end of the season.

While the GB Forest and Wildlife Department received Rs309.5 million, 80 per cent of this revenue goes to the respective community-controlled hunting areas, which distributes cheques among respective communities at special ceremonies, while the remaining 20pc goes to the national exchequer.

The trophy hunting programme in Gilgit-Baltistan, which began in the Nagar Valley in 1990, has since expanded to other areas within the region. Despite global controversies surrounding trophy hunting, proponents argue that such programmes help prevent poaching, empower local communities, and contribute to wildlife conservation.

According to a GB-based conservationist Rashid Minhas, from 1990 till 2023, around $5 million was generated through trophy hunting of markhor alone, of which US$ 4.3m has been invested in social, economic and environmental development of local communities.

GB Forests and Wildlife Department officials are exploring more areas within the Gilgit-Baltistan region to declare as protected areas with public participation, which protects precious and rare wildlife from illegal hunting.

Currently, 60pc of the area in Gilgit-Baltistan has been declared a protected area. GB is rich in flora and fauna due to its varied climatic conditions and ecosystem. The region is home to many rare species, such as the Marco Polo sheep, ibex, markhor, urial, blue sheep, lynx, snow leopard, leopard cat, brown and black bears, wolf, fox, marmot, chakor, and ram chakor, and golden eagle. However, some of these rare species are facing the threat of extinction due to illegal hunting, negligence by the wildlife department, and climate change-related issues.

Environmentalists also oppose trophy hunting, citing that it causes a decline in the population of wildlife species and encourages poaching.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2024

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