Why would Pakistan allow exemptions from global conservation regulations? The bird meat is considered an aphrodisiac, which may explain why the men hunt.
Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud reportedly killed 1,977 of the nearly-extinct houbara bustards last January, violating his hunting permit by killing so many of the birds. The rest of his party killed an additional 123 of the creatures, raising the final death toll to a staggering 2,100.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources estimates the houbara bustards’ global population to be at 110,000, declining by around 20% annually.
The incident, described in a report dated February 2014, says that during the safari the prince hunted the birds for 15 days in reserved and protected areas, poached birds in other areas for six days and then “took rest” for two days.
The report was prepared by local divisional forest and wildlife department officer Jaffar Baloch, according to Dawn News.
Classified as a vulnerable species due to hunting and habitat degradation, the houbara bustard is globally protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Hunting these birds is banned in Pakistan, but the government issues special permits to Gulf states’ royals allowing them to hunting up to 100 birds in 10 days in the area allocated, excluding reserved and protected areas.
How much money changes hands to obtain special permits remains unspecified.
It’s not known whether the prince will face any punishment. But shouldn’t the Pakistani government be smacked too?
Image of slaughtered birds from Pakistan Defense