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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.

Houbara Bustard

Date: 21 December 2019 Tags: Biodiversity

Issue

The government of Pakistan has issued special permits to the Emir of Qatar and nine other members of the royal family to hunt the houbara bustard, an internationally protected bird species.

 

Background

The houbara bustard, which lives in arid climates, comes in two distinct species as recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one residing in North Africa (Chlamydotis undulata) and the other in Asia (Chlamydotis macqueenii).

 

Details

  • The population of the Asian houbara bustards extends from northeast Asia, across central Asia, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula to reach the Sinai desert.

  • 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.

  • After breeding in the spring, 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 IFHC, the main reasons for the houbara’s decline are poaching, unregulated hunting, along with degradation of its natural habitat.

  • While Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt the bird, the government invites Arab royals to hunt it every year.

  • The latest person-specific permits will allow the individuals to hunt over 100 houbara bustards over a 10-day safari during the three month hunting season between November 1, 2019 – January 31, 2020. The hunting area is spread over the provinces of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab.

Great Indian Bustard

This species was formerly widespread in India and Pakistan. The bustard is critically endangered in Pakistan primarily due to lack of protection and rampant hunting.It is protected under Wildlife Protection Act 1972 of India. The IUCN status of the species in India is critically Endangered.

In India they are mainly found in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka.