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.
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