Members of the Qatari royal arrived in various parts of Pakistan to hunt the internationally protected migratory bird houbara bustard for which the government had issued them special permits, it emerged on Monday.
The Arab dignitaries have been allocated different areas in all the four provinces, where they are currently busy hunting the bird.
Read more: 12-member Qatari delegation, including controversial Prince Jassim arrives in Lahore
Each permit-holder is allowed to hunt 100 houbara bustard in a period of 10 days. The three-month hunting season began on Nov 1, 2016, and would end on Jan 31, 2017.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the bird on its ‘red list’ of threatened species, estimating there are fewer than 97,000 left globally.
Besides former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabber Al-Thani, the special permits have also been issued to the father of Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and the emir’s brother, Jassim bin Hamad Al-Thani. They have been allocated areas in Bahawalpur district in Punjab and Musakhel district in Balochistan.
A member of the royal family and former deputy prime minister, Sheikh Mohammad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has been allocated Loralai district (excluding Duki area) in Balochistan. Four more members of the Qatari royal family — Sheikh Khalid bin Thani Al-Thani, Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, Sheikh Thani bin Abdul Aziz Al-Thani and Sheikh Mohammad bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Thani Al-Thani — have been allocated areas in Dadu city in Sindh, Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Surab tehsil in Kalat district, and Barkhan district in Balochistan.
The houbara bustard is not only protected under various international conventions and agreements signed by the country but its hunting is also banned under the local wildlife protection laws. Pakistanis are not allowed to hunt it but it is much sought after by Arab hunters.
In January this year, the Supreme Court lifted its ban on the hunting of houbara bustard, whose meat is prized among Arab sheikhs as an aphrodisiac.
Read more: Qatari prince issued special permit for hunting houbara bustard in Punjab