Asian ibex, the new hunters’ club victim

QUETTA ( NeoWeb Desk) A recent surge in ibex hunting in Balochistan has caused an outrage amongst environmentalists and activists involved in conservation efforts. Heartrending pictures of hunters posing with their ‘trophies’ during the Eid season have been shared on social media much to the chagrin of those working towards saving the animals.Along with the mountainous swathes of the Himalayas, Balochistan is a major breeding ground for the Asian ibex. In recent years, illegal hunting of the famed goat has picked up momentum. Both local and foreign hunters travel to remote areas in Balochistan to pursue their passion.In response to a social media campaign which protested the hunting of ibexes, Balochistan’s forest and wildlife department spurred into action. “We have ordered an inquiry regarding the hunting of ibexes in Balochistan,” the department’s secretary, Khudai Rahim Hijbani, tells .“We will submit a final report in a week’s time,” he adds.

In Balochistan’s fertile ibex hunting grounds, the elite hunt the mountain goat with impunity. And with the profiles of these influential individuals ranging from legislators to tribal chieftains, forest officers deployed to curtail such activities remain powerless to do anything.Besides the local elite, Arab blue bloods also descend on the province to try their hand at hunting ibexes. Chaghai, Naushki, Kharan and other parts of Balochistan are regarded as preferred for royal hunting trips.Apart from ibex, other ‘game animals’ such as the endangered houbara bustards are also hunted with much fanfare. Last year alone, a member of an Arab royal family proceeded to hunt 2,100 houbara bustards in a killing spree that last three weeks.Despite a ban on illegal hunting by the Balochistan High Court (BHC), the slaughter continues unabated.During Eidul Fitr, Balochistan’s forest and wildlife department carried out an initial investigation regarding reports of illegal hunting of ibexes. Sharifuddin, a conservationist with the said department, tells this reporter that the hunting sprees took place near Hingol National Park and in the province’s Lasbela, Awaran and Gwadar districts.“The individuals who hunted ibexes were already proclaimed offenders in previous incidents of illegal hunting,” the official says.With such high casualties of the endangered animal and little real action against the hunters, the government’s efforts in ensuring the ibexes’ conservation can hardly be deemed satisfactory, let alone efficient.“It is ironic that ibexes are better protected in community conserves as compared to officially administered areas,” Head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Balochistan chapter, Faiz Kakar, points out, almost sardonically.Wild animals are protected by communities in the areas of Torghar and Duraiji in Killa Saifullah and Lasbela districts, Kakar says. He also entreats the provincial governor and chief minister to take notice of illegal ibex hunting and bring those responsible to account.

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