Saudi Royal on Houbara bustard hunting spree in Balochistan

Published: February 9, 2015


QUETTA: A Saudi prince is on a hunting spree for rare birds in Balochistan despite a court-imposed ban and the government’s insistence that the foreign delegation is only on a diplomatic mission, senior officials said Monday.

The annual hunt has sparked controversy in recent years because of the Houbara bustard’s dwindling numbers, with the issue also shining a spotlight on traditionally close ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the bird on its ‘red list’ of threatened species, estimating there are fewer than 97,000 left globally.

A provincial High Court in Balochistan in November last year cancelled all permits for hunting in the province before the arrival of the Saudi prince and his companions, but since reaching Pakistan last week the party has been allowed to hunt unimpeded, three officials have confirmed to AFP.

The provincial government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the ban to seek a formal permission for the Royal guests to hunt, but the hearing has not been fixed.

A senior provincial government official said that the Saudi governor and his companions “had arrived Dalbandin (district) for hunting Houbara bustard and it is confirmed that these dignitaries started hunting on Thursday”.

A second official in the paramilitary Balochistan Levies and an official at the forest department also confirmed that they were aware of the hunting.

“Arab dignitaries are engaged in hunting Houbara bustard but our staff are not allowed to have access to their camp or accompany the hunting party. There is no knowledge that how many birds have been hunted,” the official said.

The government for its part has denied that the Saudi party is engaged in hunting, saying that they had come to oversee development activities.

“They have other kind of activities like inspecting Arab-funded development schemes and meeting tribal elders of the area as part of good will”, minister for forest and wildlife Obaidullah Babat, told reporters last week.

The issue has stirred controversy on social media and among youth activists in the restive province, where a separatist insurgency has been simmering since 2004 and many are critical of the government’s policies, including its ties to ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia.

Up to 40 youth activists from Chaghi district protested in front of Quetta Press Club against the hunting of Houbara Bastard on Friday.

They chanted slogans against the provincial government and demanded the expulsion of the Arab hunting parties from the province.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Jaco Khan
    Feb 9, 2015 - 5:51PM

    It is sin to kill innocent birds in open area , while they are rich can construct bird farms to fill their needs.Recommend

  • Shery
    Feb 9, 2015 - 6:48PM

    US $ 1.5 Billion are speaking.Recommend

  • raider
    Feb 9, 2015 - 7:06PM

    It is very unique bird, it is at the verge of extinction, which will care, these are reasons we Muslim are being humiliated everywhere due to switching to hedonistic life,Recommend

  • xulfjan
    Feb 9, 2015 - 7:28PM

    Kick these evil people out of our country after charging them with pillage and endangering our natural wealth….why should they be allowed to meet with tribal leaders…so as to bribe their way through to paddle their Salafism??Recommend

  • pardesi
    Feb 9, 2015 - 7:31PM

    Its shameful for us that we cannot stop begging from these insensitive people as a result we have to loose our precious wildlife to these people still living and breathing dark ages.Recommend

  • Mohammed
    Feb 9, 2015 - 7:58PM

    A muslim should not kill any birds except for food. This is pure evil!Recommend

  • ABKhan
    Feb 9, 2015 - 8:04PM

    Darbaris like Adnan siddiqui and Ch AD can still find an excuse for their Darbaare-e-Raiwand on this issueRecommend

  • Reddy
    Feb 9, 2015 - 8:18PM

    @Mohammed, you don’t have to kill animals / birds for food. Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    Feb 9, 2015 - 9:07PM

    The officials of Balochistan Government must have apprised the Prince and his party very politely that the High court has cancelled all the licences hence they should not kill any bird and even after that they continue the killing then where is the soveirgenty or they are above the law of the land.Recommend

  • Shiv Charan Ghorpade
    Feb 9, 2015 - 10:27PM

    I wonder if this incident is seen as an attack on the sovereignty of the state of Pakistan. Here is a suggestion – how about take your phati hui sovereignty and yell Kashmir Kashmir from top of your lungs?Recommend

  • Parvez
    Feb 9, 2015 - 10:32PM

    They are not just hunting the Houbara……….they are also spitting at us in the eye.Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 9, 2015 - 11:46PM

    There is no point in critising the people who regard birds shooting a hobby. The Indians have always assisted the Brits colonialists in their hunting spree and even got reawrded for it. The Pakistanis appear to be very loyal to these traditions and are offering thei services to the arab royalty. One way to stop this cruelty would be to feed the Houbaras with special medicine which will induce impotency to the one who eats its meat. the arab prince will not show up again in Pakistan bushes! This is not a joke either.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Sam@ABE
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:41AM

    The houbaras in Pakistan seem to be headed in the same general direction as the Hindus . Recommend

  • Tahir Khan
    Feb 10, 2015 - 1:13AM

    Shameful of our leaders to allow this criminal behaviour whilst the Saudis execute and punish pakistani citizens by the score with impunity.Recommend

  • Sexton Blake
    Feb 10, 2015 - 1:50AM

    Although I do not agree with this childish and brutal bird shooting, it does make a change from chopping peoples heads off, and lashing people outside various Saudi Mosques. Recommend

  • someone
    Feb 10, 2015 - 2:40AM

    Let me know when JuD/JI bring a protest rally against it.Recommend

  • Adil
    Feb 10, 2015 - 2:48AM

    LOL was,nt surprised to see Indians talking positively about it they already seeing kashmir failing from their hands and already kashmir is province of Pakistan so doing their failed tactics lmao.Recommend

  • Wizarat
    Feb 10, 2015 - 2:54AM

    What are the developmental programs that he is talking about?

    Need a few healthcare facilities in Dalbandin and other areas of Baluchistan. I wonder if the Prince would be so inclined to contact me. I am willing to volunteer my time and effort to ensure that they are built and are run efficiently for the sole benefit of the local people.and Yes, I do have experience in building, commissioning, and operating these types of facilities.
    respond to this message, Mr. Prince, may god give you more if you truly help people in need. The LOCALS of Baluchistan.Recommend

  • Azam
    Feb 10, 2015 - 5:21AM

    Guys do u think moaning on Houbara bustard’s hunting will create any difference in the country where human life got no value….seriously get a lifeRecommend

  • Appan
    Feb 10, 2015 - 12:29PM

    What a shame! Rich Saudi Royal can be so cruel and the Pakistan Government just surrenders itself!! After all human life has no value in SA and what to talk of poor birds. MAY Allah give some better sense to all cncernedRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 10, 2015 - 4:43PM

    @Tahir Khan:
    All muslim countries that exercise capital punishmenic require Aufklarung of Quraanic scriptures!! Though shall not kill is God’s commandment.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • IndiAm
    Feb 10, 2015 - 11:36PM

    It would be a great idea if Pakistani and Indian wildlife experts work together and transfer some of these birds to the Rajasthan … Why can’t pakistanis and Indians collaborate on matters like these, healthcare etc. so that the number of positive Pakistani-Indian transactions far outweigh the negative transactions that we keep reading about.Recommend

  • Indian Observer
    Mar 12, 2015 - 3:33PM

    Pakistan is a sovereign country right. Back in the day when it was British India and the jewel in the Crown, it was a different matter that the White royalty went hunting with packs of natives (both Indians ,Pakistanis,Afghanis) and posed for pics with the game. Now 67 years later, why is pakistan pandering to these Arab royalty and bending down unnecessarily. You all know what happens if you bend too much. Put at least one member of the retinue in jail and humiliate them, atleast one guy will not have diplomatic immunity. Then these guys wont be back again. Don’t lose your dignity for a few riyals , this is my plea to you guys.Recommend

  • Sameer BAloch
    Mar 18, 2015 - 11:14PM

    I know better from u guyz becz me from balochistan . every year ARABS comes and hunt that which is known as “CHARZ” they say this bird meat is very useful for them every year they hunt thousand.but the govt is not taking action against themRecommend

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