ISLAMABAD: Sticking to its guns, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government declined a request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to relax the wildlife department’s rules on the hunting of the houbara bustard and hunting with falcons.
The request was aimed to facilitate dignitaries from middle-eastern countries and allow them to hunt the rare bird in wildlife reserve areas of the province.
Hunting of the houbara bustard is banned under the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) of Flora & Fauna as the bird is classified as an endangered species.
As per documents available with the Express Investigation Cell, the K-P government, through a letter to the foreign ministry, clarified Pakistan was a signatory of the CITES treaty which declared the houbara bustard a rare species and banned its hunting.
Also, hunting of the bird is banned by Pakistan under Martial Law Order 292, which has been protected by the Constitution.
When contacted, K-P Green Growth Initiative Chairman and former state minister for environment Malik Mian Aslam confirmed the provincial government has declined the foreign ministry’s request. “We believe that no one is above the law,” he asserted.
Royal princes of some Gulf states hunt thousands of houbara bustard every year during the winter season in the forest and wildlife reserve areas of Chagai and Dalbandin in Balochistan as well as Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur and DG Khan in Punjab. That is the main reason for the dwindling population of the rare bird, added Aslam.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2015.