BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: The national animal, Markhor has attracted the highest bid as Gilgit – Baltistan [G-B] government auctions trophy hunting quota for the trophy hunting season 2015-16.
The permit for hunting of Markhor was sold out at US 67,500 followed by Blue Sheep $8800 and Ibex US$ 3000.
The hunting season begins in November and ends in April every year.
Hunting permits for four markhors, 60 ibexes and eight blue sheep were auctioned in Gilgit this week, allowing hunters to claim the trophy of their choice from a region that is often referred to as a “living museum”.
“We hope the initiative proves to be leap towards conserving the wildlife,” an official in G-B wildlife department said on Saturday.
The permit auction ceremony, presided by secretary forests and wildlife Sajjad Haider, was held on Thursday and attended by outfitters and wildlife department officials.
“The cost of markhor registered an increase this year as it was sold out at $6000 last year,” said the official.
Wildlife experts say the cost of the animal is fixed as per the population of the species. “The rarer a species, the higher cost its gets,” said an expert Gulam Mustafa.
The trophy hunting quota is created 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 the rare species, 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”.
One of the significant features of the trophy hunting programme is that 80 per cent of the hunting fee goes to the local community while the government spends the remaining 20 per cent on projects meant for the welfare of forests and biodiversity.
The communities use their share on projects aimed at conserving natural resources. The funds are allocated by committees trained by various NGOs in accounts, planning and management.