Leave the birds alone: ‘Houbara bustards are our guests, we should protect them’

Members of Mahol Dost Shehri demand an end to issuance of permits to hunt the bird.

Our Correspondent February 25, 2014
Members of Mahol Dost Shehri told the media on Tuesday that the population of houbara bustards has reduced to half globally in the last 10 years. PHOTO: FILE


The use of the falcons to hunt houbara bustards is the same as using drones to kill humans, said Almas Bana of Mahol Dost Shehri at a press conference held on Tuesday.

Accompanied by other members of the organisation — Rumana Husain, Naeem Sadiq, and Arif Belgaumi — at the Karachi Press Club, Bana demanded that the government stop issuing permits for the hunting of the endangered birds. “The falcons attack houbara bustards from behind and the bird is killed as immediately as the death after a drone attack,” said Bana, adding that an application was filed in the high court on January 23 in this regard.

According to Sadiq, the court has taken action against the issuance of permits by the foreign ministry, ordering representatives of 33 permits to appear before the court.

“As they did not show up, the judges ordered a complete ban on hunting houbara bustards on February 10,” said Sadiq.

“The high court has given the order but we are here for its implementation,” said Husain. “These birds are our guest and we should protect them as their population has dwindled to half globally in the last 10 years.”

Speaking on the illegal permits, Belgaumi said that 33 permits have been issued by the foreign ministry to Arab foreigners for hunting the endangered birds in Pakistan even after the ban from the government.

“A single permit allows hunting of 100 birds but as no one is there to keep a check, the hunters kill thousands of birds every season,” said Sadiq, claiming that even if someone does raise the issue, they are given a car in exchange for their silence.

The beautiful 2.5 foot tall bird has the ability to travel really fast with its 5.5 foot wide wings. “The bird migrates from country to country - it has travelled 55,000 kilometres in 10 days to reach Pakistan,” said Bana.

According to Belgaumi, the permit holders come to hunt in Pakistan with a large group of people and damage the environment.

“They come in groups of around 100 people along with cars, 4 wheelers, trucks and water tankers,” he said. “Wherever they camp, the area becomes a no-go area for the locals due to the presence of foreigners and after they leave, they leave the area in a poor state.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2014.


Yaseen | 7 years ago | Reply Hunting houbaras with falcons is completely natural and comparing a falcon to a drone absolutely absurd. Falconry is a noble sport not a brutal act. Having said that I do agree, that allowing foreigners to hunt an unchecked number of houbaras needs to be stopped immediately. Our government is full of sell outs and so are the landlords of the areas whee this hunting takes place. I believe the government can actually negotiate much better terms with the houbara hungry Arabs and the proceeds of the fees collected should be used for the benefit of the people living on the land they hunt in. Currently one can see feudal lords driving around in SUVs with Arab license plates. A blatant example of a sell out. Fact remains, we are sell outs and if this has to change we must put the nation's interest before our personal agendas.
ali | 7 years ago | Reply

i wish we can say the same about the people who are being persecuted in their countries and are facing worst crimes against humanity, be it in Iran, Uzbekistan, RUssia, Eastern Turkstan, Burma or other places

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