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Updated: April 22, 2014 23:18 IST

Arab Prince’s hunting frenzy draws flak

Meena Menon
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A representational photo of a Houbara bustard. Photo: Special arrangement
A representational photo of a Houbara bustard. Photo: Special arrangement

Kills 2100 endangered Houbara Bustards in Pakistan

The hunting season is over and the royalty has departed, leaving behind only outrage. While petitions have been filed in court against the hunting of the endangered Houbara Bustard, believed to be an aphrodisiac by some, it is the turn of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to lodge a strong protest.

Central Information Secretary PTI, Shireen Mazari, on Tuesday expressed shock at a report [published in Dawn] on Arab royalty indiscriminately hunting down the endangered Houbara Bustard in Pakistan.

Special permits

The report “Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of Houbara Bustard” prepared by Divisional Forest Officer of the Balochistan Forest and Wildlife Department, Chagai at Dalbandin, states the Prince hunted for 21 days — from January 11 to January 31, 2014 — and hunted 1,977 birds, while other members of his party hunted an additional 123 birds, bringing the total Houbara Bustard toll to 2,100.

Ms. Mazari pointed out that hunting the internationally protected bird was banned in Pakistan but the federal government issued special permits to royalty from the Gulf states.

Permits, which are person specific and could not be used by anyone else, allow the holders to hunt up to 100 Houbara Bustards in 10 days in the area allocated, excluding reserved and protected areas, she said.

However, the Prince hunted the protected birds in the reserves and protected areas as the report dated February 4, 2014 said.

During the 21-day safari, he hunted the birds for 15 days in the reserved and protected areas and poached birds in other areas for six days.

‘Complicity exposed’

The report gives details of where the hunting took place and how many bustards were killed. She said this report is a damning expose of the government’s complicity in breaking its own and international laws relating to endangered species.

She demanded the government end these violations of laws by Gulf Royals and ensure that laws relating to protected species are enforced.

She also called for transparency in the issue of licences for legally permitted hunting so that the Houbara Bustard is not made extinct simply to pander to Royal or any other hunter.

Keywords: Houbara Bustard

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