The Pakistani government has decided that trophy hunters will be able to buy permits for a deposit of $25,000.The move comes after the government decided that endangered urial deer can be hunted for trophies from December 15 to March 31.
The federal government will sell trophy hunting permits on December 5 at the office of the Punjab Wildlife Department in Lahore.
Trophy hunters who want to take part in the auction will have to pay a $5,000 reserve fee when they send in their applications to get a permit. The person who bids the most will get the permits.
Last year, the fee to hunt a urial deer for a trophy was set at $18,000.
The people who win the permits won’t be able to hunt anything but urial deer. Officials said hunters who break the rules about trophy hunting will have to pay a fine.Eighty percent of the money from the trophy hunting programme goes to the local communities. These communities use the money for education, health, and development projects.
The remaining 20% of the money will be put into the government account.
New money, New wars
The government has said that 38 community areas are good places to hunt. These are made up of different areas, which sometimes only have one village and sometimes are marked for trophy hunting, like the three villages of Skoyo, Krabatang, and Basingo in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
In the Baltistan part of G-B, these three villages are over 2,000 meters above sea level and have the most markhor people.
Money has been made from trophy hunting, but things have not always gone well.
Akbar Hussain, 35, told thethirdpole.net that the PKR 6 million (USD $38,000) he made from hunting one markhor has been stuck in the bank for the past year.
Hussain runs a meat shop in Skoyo and is also the president of the SKB village organization, whose name comes from the first letter of each village.
Hunting, ban, and conservation
During the time of the British Raj, the markhor was a popular game animal, and this continued after Pakistan became independent in 1947.
By the 1990s, the markhor was almost extinct, so the government made it illegal to hunt them at all.
Since then, the population has grown again, and Ghaznavi said there are between 3,500 and 4,000 markhor in the country.
“We are delighted with the increase, especially when you consider that there were only 1,500–2,000 markhor left in 2001,” he said, giving the villagers credit for their efforts to save and protect the markhor.
The ban was then replaced by a program called “controlled trophy hunting,” which has been called a huge success in protecting biodiversity.
Trophy hunting only old male goats are shot. “We can determine the age of the goat from its horns, from its gait and from the body,” said Akram. In addition, the program has put a complete ban on killing without a licence. “It is considered a grave wildlife offense,” said Ghaznavi, punishable under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife and Biodiversity (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 2015.
The maximum sentence for hunting a markhor under this act is 3 years imprisonment. Although illegal hunting is quite rare, it does happen. Earlier this year two men suspected of shooting a young markhor were booked under the act.
The enormous incentive for the communities from their share of the trophy hunting license means they work hard to protect the animal. Since 1998 when the program began, the SKB villagers have received money for killing about ten of these wild goats.
Hussain said that when the fight over money is over, which should be in a couple of months, they will pay the guards first and then the fourth village.
“We also need to pay back the money we borrowed to build the bridge,” he said.
Using some quick back-of-the-envelope math, he said that all of the money would be spent and no more development work would be done.
If there are more hunters this year, the SKB villages would like to put in a small hydroelectric plant.
“We are hooked up to the grid, but it costs a lot. The villagers still use a lot of wood, and we can’t afford it.”
On the other hand, he said, power from a micro hydro power plant would be much cheaper and better for the environment.