Hunting animals for sport, when their population is already dwindling in the world, should not be allowed. A parliamentary body on Friday was informed that despite pressure to increase the number of permits to trophy hunt Markhor, Pakistan’s national animal, the requests have been declined. Officials from the Ministry of Climate Change stated to the respective Senate Committee that unless a fresh census to ascertain the numbers of Markhors was not conducted, permits will not be increased.

Markhors, a large Capra species found in the Himalayas, are popular among poachers, who acquire permits from the government to be allowed to hunt the animals. Poaching of Markhors at a point in time was so abundant that the population of Markhors began decreasing at an alarming rate until foreign and local NGOS initiated programmes for conservation of the species and restriction of the trophy game hunting field. Today, while the Markhor population is said to have returned back to normal, the species is still listed on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened.

With these facts in mind, it was integral that the Ministry of Climate Change deny the increase of permits and indeed they did. For this move, the department should be commended since they took this decision in the face of considerable financial pressure- a lot of money can be generated from auctions which sell permits. The highest price at a recent auction was $110,000.

It is good to see the government stand its ground and depart from the precedent of the houbara bustards case, where permits to hunt an endangered bird were issued to members of the Gulf royal family. Regulating hunting is an issue that is important not just for animal rights but also for preserving habitat conservation and recording the effect of the decreasing animal populace on the local communities.