GILGIT: As the trophy hunting season continues, an Italian national has become the first person ever to hunt a 32-inch blue sheep in Gilgit-Baltistan.
The hunt, said to be the biggest in the country’s history, was made by Boieti Gian Carlo on Saturday in Gojal Valley.
“This is the biggest hunt of blue sheep ever made by a hunter in Pakistan,” said Shabbir Baig, an official of the G-B wildlife department on Tuesday. “Our record shows all previous hunts of blue sheep were less than 31 inches.”
According to wildlife experts, the size and age of wild animals are measured by the length of their horns.
Baig said the blue sheep was about 16 years old and Carlo hunted the animal with the support of locals.
This season’s quota for trophy hunting was set at 64 animals—four markhors, 52 ibexes and eight blue sheep—and was announced by the G-B government in November last year. With $62,000, the markhor received the highest bid at the auction attended by various outfitters.
The price for ibex and blue sheep was fixed at $3,000 and $8,000, respectively for foreign hunters.
According to Baig, Saturday’s hunt was the 18th trophy hunting in G-B this season which began from November and ends in April.
With each hunt, 80% of the hunting fee goes to the local community, while the government spends the remaining 20% on projects meant for preserving forests and biodiversity.
Irfan Munna, a resident of Gojal and a conservationist, said the communities in Khunjerab Villagers Organization, which is the pioneering organisation for hunting of blue sheep, would get their share of 80% from the $8,600 Carlo paid as hunting fee.
The trophy hunting quota of each season is determined on the basis of annual surveys conducted by wildlife experts.
G-B is often referred to as a “living museum”, as it is home to a variety of animals, including the Marco Polo sheep, ibex, markhor, urial, blue sheep, lynx, snow leopard, brown and black bears, wolf, fox, marmote, chakor, Ram chakor and rare species such as the Tibetan wild ass, also known as the kiang.
The trophy hunting programme was initiated in G-B in the 1980s. Every foreign hunter has to pay a fee to the Government of Pakistan in dollars, while Pakistanis pay in rupees to indulge in what is called “a sport of kings”.