SINDH: has considerable potential for wildlife conservation and community based trophy hunting that can bring prosperity to its underdeveloped areas.

But trophy hunting is only seen in four game reserves of the Sindh Wildlife Department [SWD]  located in Thana Bula Khan taluka of the mountainous Kohistan region in the Jamshoro district.

These game reserves are Eri, Sumbak, Surjan and Hothiano. Technically, they are four separate game reserves but they are counted as one by the SWD.

Trophy hunting - considered a source of income for the rural community of the least developed villages - has been flourishing there for a long time under SWD regulations. And it is not without the community's and the tribal chief Malik Asad Sikander's participation.

All four game reserves are located near but outside Kirthar National Park - a protected area -  stretching over around 1,192 square miles in Dadu, Jamshoro and Malir districts.

It is said to be Pakistan's second largest after the Hingol National Park. No hunting is allowed there but SWD officials concede that violations do take place.

Trophy hunting generates income. Revenue generated out of it is disbursed on an 80-20 basis with the community keeping 80 percent and 20 percent going to the provincial kitty. Rural communities utilise these funds for the areas upliftment through the construction of wells, tracks, and schools, etc.

Controlled trophy hunting helps conserve species like urial and ibex in Kohistan. Only international hunters are allowed to hunt urial wheas ibex can be hunted by  national hunters as well as their foreign counterparts.

An annual census for wild animals is done by the end of September to identify older males whose hunting is allowed allowed after an auction. Community's watchers identify animals from the size of their trophies which are measured in inches.

During the 2018-19 season foreigners killed 13 ibexes and one urial. Price of an idex closed at  $5,600 and urial's price at $14, 100.

A Pakistani hunter, the brother of a former information minister - had hunted an ibex for Rs 400,000.

 In the last hunting season, Rs 13, 204, 483 was generated of which the community's 80 percent share was calculated at Rs 10, 563, 586 and the government's  20 percent share stood at Rs26, 408, 97.

The season begins in November and end in the January-February period.

The SWD's records also reported the killing of reptiles, chinkara, wild cats, foxes and that a jackal had killed some goats of the community recently.

''Only older males are allowed to be hunted. If this culling did not take place, the older males would not let the young ones mate with females to have off spring,'' remarked a retired SWD wildlife officer.

Beside Thana Bula Khan, there are 12 other game reserves listed by the  SWD. But Kohistan's successful trophy hunting model is yet to be replicated in these government-run reserves.

This can only be done with the revival of forests which are the natural habitat of wildlife. [Dawn]


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