By Shabbir Mir
The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has announced the licence fee for this year’s hunting season with Pakistan’s national animal Markhor topping the list at $70,000.
According to an official of the G-B Wildlife and Environment Department, Sajjad Haider, permits will be auctioned on November 11 in Gilgit and the hunting season will continue till April 2014. A quota of four markhors, eight blue sheep and six ibexes has been fixed this season.
The rate for hunting blue sheep is fixed at $12,000. The cost for hunting ibex varies, with international hunters having to pay $3,000 for a permit. Pakistani hunters, however, can purchase a licence for almost half that amount, Rs150,000, while the same is available for a G-B hunter at Rs60,000.
Last year, a fee of $6,250 and $2,500 (for international hunters) had been fixed for blue sheep and ibex, respectively.
Interested people have been asked to deposit $10,000 for markhor, $2,000 for blue sheep and $1,000 for ibex as guarantee prior to participation in the permit auction.
The trophy hunting programme that started in the 1990s has been going on every year in G-B. It is carried out under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wildlife and is allowed only in the notified areas of G-B in collaboration with the concerned communities.
According to last year’s statistics, revenue generated from the trophy hunting programme in the region was $1,246,740.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the markhor population in Pakistan has increased. Surveys last year suggested the population in all of Gilgit-Baltistan may now be as high as 1,500 animals. According to government estimates, in 1999 there were less than 1,000 markhors in the area.