KARACHI: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given permission to 27 dignitaries of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to set up hunting camps in 63 districts of all four provinces and hunt the protected and endangered bird, the houbara bustard. Last month, 10 licences were issued to Arab princes and sheikhs allowing them to bring 470 falcons into the country to hunt the endangered bird. Houbara bustard is a migratory bird and faces extinction threat. It flies to Pakistan in winter from former Soviet territories.
Even though the bird is protected under various international and national nature conservation organisations, the Pakistani government has granted permission to the Arab dignitaries. Even the national or international conservation organisations have not protested over the issue so far. “Personally I think houbara bustard is not endangered and it does not come under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals,” an IUCN Pakistan official told this scribe on condition of anonymity, leaving this scribe surprised over the official’s lack of knowledge.