Saudi prince arrives in Balochistan to hunt houbara bustard

ANI | Updated: Jan 08, 2018 18:41 IST

Quetta (Balochistan) [Pakistan], Jan 8 (ANI): The governor of Tabuk province of Saudi Arabia Prince Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud had reportedly arrived in the Dalbandin area of Balochistan's Chaghi district in Pakistan for hunting an endangered bird specie.

The Tabuk governor, who is also a part of the ruling Al Saud royal family, reportedly arrived on Sunday in his special flight at the Dalbandin airport.

He was received by the Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Admiral Nawaf Ahmad Al-Maliki, tribal elder Haji Ali Muhammad Notezai, Chagai district Council's Chairman Dawood Khan Notezai, Deputy Commissioner Shihak Baloch and other senior officials, amid tight security arrangements.

Pakistani Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir Khan and Adviser to the Balochistan chief minister on forest and wildlife Obaidullah Babit were also scheduled to receive the Saudi prince, but did not come to the airport, reported the Pakistan Today.

However, according to local reports, the Saudi prince met Dastagir Khan and other senior officials at a hotel, where he was lodged.

The Saudi prince later went to explore the area allotted by the federal government to him for hunting the houbara bustard. He was earlier issued a hunting licence by the Pakistani foreign ministry for that allotted area.

A Pakistani-based journalist, Amar Guriro, had earlier reported that on January 4, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak, who is the Minister of Tolerance of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was found hunting in a desert in Sindh's Ghotki district, along with Pakistan's People Party (PPP) leader and district chairman Ghotki Haji Khan Mahar.

He tweeted: "With the onset of winter, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance #UAE set a hunting camp in the desert of #Ghotki district #Sindh. On Jan 4 #PPP leader & District Chairman Ghotki Haji Khan Mahar seen hunting endangered #Houbarabustard with Sheikh at the hunting camp."

Another Pakistan-based journalist named Andleeb Abbas lambasted Dastagir Khan's meeting with the Saudi prince, during his visit to Balochistan for hunting the endangered bird.

She wrote on her Twitter handle: "When lawmakers are lawbreakers and dollarslaves...Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir goes to receive Prince Fahad in Quetta to welcome him for Houbara Bustard hunting..An internationally and provincially banned hunting..#StopHoubaraHunting"

The houbara bustard, an internationally protected migratory bird, is mostly found in arid habitats spread across northern Africa, Central Asia and South-East Asia, with a population on the Canary Islands. They are dull brown with black markings on the wings with a greyish neck and a black ruff, along the side of the neck. Males and females appear very similar to each other, but males are much larger and heavier.

Owing to the dwindling global population of houbara bustard, it is not only protected under the international conservation conventions, but its hunting is also banned under the national local wildlife protection laws. Locals are not allowed to hunt it.

However, the federal government issues special permits every year to the ruling elite families of the Gulf countries.

In 2014, the Balochistan High Court (BHC) had barred the hunting of houbara bustard on two separate petitions. However, the federal and Balochistan governments had filed a petition in the apex court against the decision of the BHC.

The top court, after hearing the plea in 2015, had dismissed the petition of the federal and Balochistan governments and had upheld the verdict of the BHC for banning the hunting of the endangered bird.

According to sources, the Saudi prince visits the area every year for hunting the houbara bustards.

Earlier, a hunting party of eight, including Arab nationals, was arrested, when they were found illegally hunting the endangered bird in Balochistan on Saturday. (ANI)