In the first week of December 2012, the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government announced a quota for trophy hunting in the region for 2013, inviting national and international hunters to the region, which is known as a “living museum” for its varied wildlife and natural beauty.
It is home to a number of exotic animals which makes hunters flock the area for trophy hunting, a male-dominated sport which sees them hunt wild game animals.
Such an opportunity was not passed up by an American national, who became the first hunter of 2013 to claim an ibex as a trophy when he hunted the animal in G-B’s Gojal Valley.
“Mr Jerry Otis Bush has hunted an ibex trophy at the junction of rivers Khunjerab and Ghewjerav,” said Rahman Posh, Chairman Khunjerab Village Organisation [KVO], an umbrella organisation of seven villages in Gojal Valley.
Posh told The Express Tribune on Wednesday that the ibex hunted by Bush had 40 inch long horns. He spent at least four days with the communities and wildlife officials in the valley, searching for a suitable animal to hunt.
Posh said that after the successful hunt, Bush announced a donation of $500 to KVO, which he said would be used for providing health insurance to vulnerable families of the community in the valley.
According to the latest survey, the number of animals big enough for trophy hunting in G-B stood at 446 ibexes, 117 markhors (large species of wild goat) and 190 blue sheep.
Wilayat Noor, a conservator in G-B confirmed the hunt and hoped that more wild game hunters would visit the region to hunt the game after paying a legal fee to the federal government. “It is the hunting season [and] we hope more hunters will come,” Noor said.
For the hunting season 2012-2013, the G-B government slapped a $40,000 hunting fee for a markhor, $6,250 for a blue sheep and $2,500 for an ibex. Upon a successful hunt, 80% of the fee goes to the respective community where the hunt takes place.
The trophy hunting programme was first introduced in the early 1990s in the Bar Valley of Nagar in G-B.
Last year, one markhor, one blue sheep and 28 ibexes were hunted in the region and as stipulated, 80% of the hunting fee was given to the respective communities as part of their share, an official document said.
The communities of Gojal Valley have invited more hunters to visit the valley for hunting the animals as they have a quota for more hunts.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2013.