trophy hunting

Gilgit-Baltistan:Uniform Distribution by WWF in Gilgit

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Gilgit (Dard.Times): WF-Pakistan under its Pakistan wetlands programme-Northern Alpine Wetlands Complex delivered 22 sets of uniform to the field staff of Gilgit-Baltistan Wildlife Department in a ceremony held in Gilgit Conservation Information Centre, on May 10, 2012.  The purpose of providing uniform to the field staff was to encourage dedicated personnel of the department who render their services to protect wildlife resources in their respective regions.

The Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment Gilgit-Baltistan, Mr.Khadim Hussain Saleem, who attended the ceremony as Chief Guest, applauded the initiative and remarked that the uniformed personnel in the department could deliver their duties more efficiently. He added that, in addition to sustainable resource use initiatives like trophy hunting efforts should also be channelled to build capacity of local communities to withstand the climate induced hazards and disasters.

Mr. Babar Khan Head WWF-P, Gilgit-Baltistan spoke about the longstanding partnership between GB wildlife department and WWF Pakistan for nature conservation in the region, and “provision of uniform and other necessary equipment to the department’s staff is another step towards mutual collaboration”, he added.

Mr.Muhammad Ismail Zafar Conservator Forest, Gilgit during his speech explained mutual collaboration between WWF-P and Gilgit-Baltsitan Forest Wildlife and Environment department since early 1990s and he admired the WWF-P’s interventions for conservation of protected area in the region and hoped for better future cooperation.

Mr.walayat Noor, Conservator, Wildlife and Parks, Gilgit-Baltistan also attended the ceremony and shared his views about the event. He emphasized on developing management plans for Qurumbar and Hunderab-Shandoor National Parks, in addition to taking necessary steps on implementation of the management plans of Deosai National Park. He also suggested taking some steps to add Nangaparbat area under the net of protected areas in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The event was also attended by other senior officials of GB Forest and Wildlife Department including the Deputy Secretary, DFO Wildlife and others.

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Gilgit-Baltistan:Snow Leopards Descend down to Doyan valley

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Gilgit: On 13th February 2012 local community members of the Doyan valley in Astore District of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan spotted a group of four snow leopards near their village. Astonishingly the shy cats remained at the same location till 14th February, and the community members Mr. Naseer ur Rehman and others informed Gilgit-Baltistan Wildlife Department about the sighting and continued show up of the animals. Upon the advice of Mr. Willayat Noor, Conservator Parks and Wildlife Gilgit-Baltistan and Mr. Aftab Mehmood, Divisional Forest Officer Wildlife Gilgit-Baltistan, the community members ventured to photograph the illusive felids. On 14th February, Mr. Naseer of Doyan Community and Mr. Farooq, Game Inspector of the Gilgit-Baltistan Wildlife Department were able to take some pictures and videos of the cats. According to Mr. Naseer, they were about 100 meters away from the cats on the other side of Astore river, while looking at them and taking photographs.

Human encounter with snow leopard in the rugged mountainous area of Gilgit-Baltistan and the neighborhood has been fascinatingly expressed by wildlife enthusiasts, biologists, government officials and local community members. The incidences have been quite often reported for the last couple of years when the local communities in Gilgit-Baltistan had proactively started wildlife watch and ward activities in their respective valleys.

Doyan valley is one of the twenty-four Community Managed Conservation Areas (CMCAs) notified by the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan as part of the community-based conservation efforts in the region. The conservation programme in Doyan valley was started in late 1990s and in 2004 local communities formed a community-based organization namely Doyan Valley Conservation and Development Organization (DVCDO). The valley was notified as CMCA in 2004 and first permit for trophy hunting of Astore Markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) was granted in 2008-2009. Remembering the venture of the first trophy hunt in his village Mr. Naseer recounts that “a British hunter namely Malkom King came to our village during the winters of 2009 and prior to his hunt the trophy size animal was hunted by a snow leopard, we were deprived of USD 36000 but we never thought of taking revenge from the cat”. Mr. Naseer proudly added that “we kept our efforts continued in conserving wildlife species in the village and the same hunter came again in 2010 and succeeded in hunting a big Markhor (41” horn size), for which the community got Pak Rupees 3.1 million. Now every one of us in the village is a guardian of wildlife, therefore, not only the Markhor, but we are also taking care of snow leopards”.

Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is bestowed with exceptional natural areas comprising of lofty peaks, enormous glaciers, alpine meadows, gushing rivers and streams, high altitude lakes, stunning landscapes and beautiful patches of old alpine forests. All these features together constitute an astonishing but fragile mountain ecosystem, providing basic livelihoods to its inhabitants such as food, fiber, shelter, medicine, etc. Simultaneously these mountain ecosystems are sheltering a magnitude of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna. To name a few are animals such as Snow leopard, Astore markhor, Himalayan ibex, Musk deer, Brown and Black bear, Woolly flying squirrel, Tibetan grey wolf, Red fox, Himalayan lynx and numerous species of birds including Ram chakor, chakor, snow partridge, golden eagle, Himalayan griffin, etc. Similarly the rivers, streams and high altitude lakes are splendid with aquatic life dominated by the famous trout fish, Eurasian otter and migratory waterfowl frequenting at certain places.

Keeping in view the extraordinary natural wealth of the mountainous areas, the Government of Gilgit Baltistan has brought certain ecologically rich areas under the net of protected areas by notifying five national parks, three wildlife sanctuaries, seven game reserves and twenty-four community-managed conservation areas, covering some 30,000 km2 , almost half of the total land area of GB. These protected areas aim to conserve species of special concern and their habitats while linking the conservation benefits with the livelihoods of local communities side by side generating avenues of income for the provincial and national economies.

Initiated from a pilot project in Bar valley of Hunza-Nagar District, some 20 years back by WWF Pakistan and the GB Wildlife Department, the community based conservation programme has now been a widespread environmental movement in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan:Hunting with a Cause

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Hunza (ET):An American national in northern Pakistan, Jea-Link, went on trophy hunting and returned with one of the world’s most precious wild animals, the ibex.

“He made both the hunts in the Khunjerab National Park,” Ghulam Mohammad, a senior forest department official told The Express Tribune.

Jea–Link, who paid about $6,000 to the government in hunting fees, attained 40 and 44 inches trophies respectively, said Sifat, an active conservationist of Gojal Valley.

The hunter made two attempts on two consecutive days and consequently bagged two trophies, he added.

The trophy hunting fee for ibex has been fixed at $3000 for international hunters, and Rs180,000 for locals.

Mohammad added that the government was planning more hunts this season that will last till mid March.

Fee used for development

The hunter was welcomed by the locals who also assisted him with the hunting. Fee from trophy hunting enables locals to initiate development projects in their community.

“As per the law, 80% of the hunting fee is given to the communities where hunting takes place,” said Asif Khan, an outfitter who has facilitated dozens of foreign hunters’ visits to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).

He added that he was planning to bring hunters to other parts of G-B as well.

G-B’s trophy hunting programme was initiated in the 1980s. In Gojal, the ibex population has increased over the past few years, and the specie is beyond the “danger limit,” largely due to efforts by international non-governmental organisations and local communities.

Wildlife experts say the rarer a specie is, the higher the fee for hunting it. The markhor, which is near extinction outside Pakistan, is the rarest of all.

The blue sheep carries a hunting fee of $12,000 while permit for a markhor is valued at $55,000.