Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Houbara hunting: Camp set up, Saudi prince yet to arrive

February 3, 2015
Houbara bustard

QUETTA: Secretary Forest Balochistan Khuda-e-Raheem Ajbani has said the advance party of Saudi prince has set up a camp in the desert of Chagai district where the prince will be hunting rare Houbara bustard, a bird protected by law. However, he added, the prince had not arrived yet.

Talking to The Express Tribune, the forest secretary said he has been informed the camp has been set up but hunting has not begun yet. “The officials in Chagai have not reported yet that hunting is taking place. We would see and implement the law accordingly if hunting starts.”

Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz led a hunting party to Balochistan last year that officials said killed more than 2,000 bustards. Later that year, Balochistan High Court in its November 28 verdict ordered cancellation of permits to foreigners, including Arab royals, hunting for the rare bird.

The forest department official said they are often unaware about the arrival of advance party of Saudi royals as they approach home department for security. “We come to know when there is an activity like hunting, which has not started yet,” Ajbani added.

On the other hand, Balochistan Home Department’s additional secretary, Noor Ahmed Samoon, said his unit is bound to provide security to foreigners on the request of foreign affairs department. 

“We have so far been not informed about the arrival of foreign dignitaries or Arab Royal,” he added.

Home department has nothing to do with hunting, the official pointed out.

Samoon said, instead, the forest department is empowered to register cases against violators under Forest and Wild Life Act 2014. “The law empowered Forest Department to register FIR against those who chop down trees and violate any law related. The Forest Department has their separate Rangers to enforce the law.”

The federal government in 2012 issued 29 special permits to royal families and Arab officials for hunting the internationally-protected bird species in Balochistan and the other provinces.

The foreign ministry had allocated certain areas of Balochistan for the dignitaries of the United Arab Emirates for hunting of houbara bustards during 2013-2014.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2015.


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