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Pakistan permits Qatar Emir, 9 others of royal family to hunt endangered houbara bustards

Despite growing backlash, Pakistani govt permits are issued every year to members of the royal families of the Gulf countries.

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Islamabad: Pakistan has issued special permits to the Emir of Qatar and nine others of the royal family to hunt 100 houbara bustards, an endangered bird species, notwithstanding growing criticism in the country against the move, according to a media report on Tuesday.

Originally an inhabitant of the colder central Asian region, the houbara bustard, in order to avoid harsh weather conditions, migrates southwards every year to spend the winter in a relatively warm environment in Pakistan.

Quoting sources, the Dawn News reported that the permits have been issued for the 2019-20 hunting season by the foreign ministry’s deputy chief of protocol, Mohammad Adeel Pervaiz.

The permit holders are Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, his uncle, brother and seven other royal dignitaries of the oil-rich Gulf nation.

The permits are issued every year to members of the royal families of the Gulf countries, despite growing criticism in Pakistan against the hunting of the endangered bird species, the report said.

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The allotted hunting areas are spread over Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab provinces. The hunters can hunt 100 houbara bustards in a 10-day safari during the three-month hunting season between November 1, 2019 and January 31, 2020. The permit is person-specific, it said.

In the wake of its dwindling population, the migratory bird is not only protected under various international nature conservation treaties, its hunting is also banned under local wildlife protection laws. Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt this bird.

The hunting of the houbara bustard is used as a foreign policy tool by the Pakistan government, which allows influential nationals of the Arabian Gulf nations to hunt the bird for a price tag of USD 100,000, the Ary News reported.

Last week, seven Qatari nationals, including four members of the royal family, were arrested for attempting to enter Nushki district in Balochistan for hunting the endangered avian species without permission of the Foreign Office.

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