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Tags Current Affairs

Houbara bustard

Date: 14 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Members of the UAE’s royal family arrived in Pakistan’s Balochistan to hunt the internationally protected and highly vulnerable houbara bustard under a license issued by Pakistan’s foreign ministry.

 

Background

The country also issued special permits to Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and five other members of their family to hunt the bird during the 2020-21 hunting season.

 

Details

  • This is not the first time royals from the Gulf and their wealthy friends have descended on the deserts of Pakistan to hunt the rare bird species.

  • The private hunting expeditions date back over four decades and have continued even after Pakistan’s Supreme Court imposed a blanket ban on the killing of the houbara bustard in 2015.

 

Houbara bustard

  • The houbara bustard is a large terrestrial bird found in parts of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. It is known to migrate to the Indian subcontinent every winter. It is similar to the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard, which is native to India.

  • After breeding during the spring season, the Asian bustards migrate south to spend the winter in Pakistan, the Arabian Peninsula and nearby Southwest Asia.

  • Some Asian houbara bustards live and breed in the southern part of their ranges including parts of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan.

  • According to the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC), roughly 33,000 Asian houbara bustards and over 22,000 of the North African houbara bustards remain today.

  • The main reasons for the decline in the species’ population are poaching, unregulated hunting, and the degradation of its natural habitat.

  • Wealthy dignitaries from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries arrive in the country to hunt down the birds using hunting gear and falcons every winter.

  • They kill the birds for sport and also because its meat is supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities.

 

Houbara hunting

  • The Pakistan foreign ministry has been extending invitations to wealthy and powerful Arabs for hunting houbara bustards in an attempt to strengthen the country’s diplomatic relations with Gulf nations.

  • Arab hunters first started coming to Pakistan to hunt in the 1960s after the houbara population in the Arabian peninsula began to dwindle.

  • Similar hunting expeditions also took place across the border in Rajasthan, where Arab royalty ruthlessly hunted the Great Indian bustard until the practice was banned in 1972.

  • Each permit allows the individual to hunt a total of 100 bustards in a designated area during a 10-day safari. But the Arab VIPs are known to violate the terms of the permit and kill far more bustards than agreed upon.

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