Friday, February 6, 2015

Houbara bustards: Balochistan challenges ban on bird’s hunting

By Shezad Baloch

February 6, 2015

BHC ordered the cancellation of areas allotted to Arab royals for hunting. 

QUETTA: The Balochistan government has challenged the ban on hunting of Houbara bustard, a rare bird protected by law in the province, officials said on Thursday.

According to an official privy to the development, Balochistan Forest Department has filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the ban on the hunting of the rare species by the Balochistan High Court (BHC).

In its ruling last year, the high court ordered the cancellation of areas allotted to Arab royals for the hunting of Houbara bustards in the province.

Despite the court’s order, sources in the forest department revealed that a Saudi royal, who arrived in Dalbandin by a private jet earlier this week, had been allowed to hunt the endangered bird.

They said Governor of Tabuk, Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz was received by federal and provincial ministers including Ahsan Iqbal.

Shortly after landing, the prince and members of his entourage were whisked away under a blanket of security to the hunting camp in Ek Mach where they began the blood sport on Thursday morning, they added.

Since then, authorities in the province have been tight-lipped over the controversial hunting. When asked for comments, Secretary Forest Department Khuda-e-Rahem refused to divulge any information on the issue.

According to details, the prince led a hunting party to the province last year that officials said killed more than 2,100 bustards in a clear violation of the official permit which in theory restricts the hunting to a maximum of 100 in 10 days.

In a desperate attempt to cover up news of the Saudi royal’s hunting spree, officials transferred Chagai’s former district forest officer for releasing details of the dignitary’s activities in the province.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2015.

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