Conservation and hunting
By: Malik Amin Aslam
ISLAMABAD: This is with reference to your report of November 30 titled “Licence to kill: Senate body proposes ban on trophy hunting”.
It is quite encouraging to read about the concern being shown by our senators on illegal wildlife poaching. However, what is equally disturbing is either the lack of understanding or the weak manner in which the case of trophy hunting has been presented to our senators and also picked up by the media.
The news item is confusing and mixes two divergent issues: trophy hunting and illegal poaching by hunters from the Gulf. The flagship Pakistan Trophy Hunting programme has been internationally acknowledged as a practically successful example of community-based conservation of wildlife. It has resulted in a significant increase in the population of markhors/blue sheep in the Northern Areas (this was duly acknowledged in the recent World Conservation Congress by IUCN).
It has also resulted in a sharp rise in the price of the trophy which is auctioned yearly and 80 per cent of the proceeds are given to the local conservancy for their own use through a dedicated fund. It has provided a true economic evaluation of the wildlife for the local custodians who feel empowered to save the valuable asset that they possess and only allow sustainable hunting with a transparent auctions process. In short, this is a success story but can benefit from a fresh independent third-party evaluation to assess the success rate. The senators should understand and guide this process.
The other issue is of illegal poaching by Arab dignitaries, especially for houbara bustards and falcons. The mode of providing licences for this activity is non-transparent and done more to please the important people who come here to hunt these birds. There is an absolute need to halt, review and regulate this process and make it transparent and sustainable. Our honourable senators should again lead this process.
What is absolutely essential is to differentiate between the two and ensure that we do not throw out the baby with the bath water.