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Houbara bustard hunting: Arab prince arrives in Pakistan’s Tharparkar with govt’s nod

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The News/Files

THARPARKAR: As endangered migratory birds Houbara bustards fly from Central Asia to Pakistan, an Arab prince from Abu Dhabi arrived in the country Tuesday with his delegation to hunt in the district of Sindh.

The prince’s arrival comes after the federal government granted them permission to hunt. Interestingly, the meat of the Houbara bustard — also known as Asian Houbara — is considered to be an aphrodisiac; it is also one of the royals’ favourite sports and is, therefore, seen as ‘soft diplomacy’ between Pakistan and the Arab world.

Confirming that the princes would hunt for the Houbara bustard, the deputy conservator for Mirpurkhas Division at the Sindh Wildlife Department, Mir Aijaz Ali Talpur, said the royals were in Pakistan after “the permission has been granted by the federal government”.

The prince’s delegation comprises six Abu Dhabi nationals and three Pakistanis, the Sindh Wildlife Department said.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Houbara bustard is listed as a vulnerable species, with a global population ranging from 50,000 to 100,000, Reuters reported earlier.

It has almost vanished from the Arabian peninsula and, according to the Guardian, is considered to be at the risk of extinction.

Back in 2016, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had lifted a ban on hunting the bird after the government argued it hurt relations with Gulf states, whose wealthy hunters traditionally travel to Pakistan to pursue the endangered species with falcons.

Critics, however, say hunting with falcons — a practice Arab nomads used to survive life in the desert and is now arguably the most elaborate blood sport in the world — is today a reckless hobby that threatens the Houbara bustard.

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