Everyone is aware of the fact that Pakistan’s national animal is the mighty Markhor, otherwise known as the screw horn goat. The Markhor is a majestically beautiful creature with immense strength and stature, all of which has helped it to gain a prestigious place in Pakistan’s national heritage.
Due to its dwindling population, the Markhor – Pakistan’s national animal – has been declared an endangered species
Before 2015, the Markhor had made it’s way to the endangered species list due to a dwindling population and excessive hunting. However, constant efforts by the management and wildlife preservation regimes have helped boost the numbers and now the Markhor is considered to be near threatened. There are strict laws and heavy penalties against hunting this animal and there can also be some serious repercussions, all of which make the Markhor so dear and priced to us.
I mean, we even have a movie dedicated to this beautiful creature.
Yes, that’s a Markhor. Our obsession with this animal is real!
In order to protect this beautiful creature, Pakistan has made it illegal to hunt them. One might think that after all of this, the Markhor is considered to be a sacred thing in Pakistan. Seems like that is not the case.
Just last week, a photo of a man with a dead Markhor next to him started making rounds on social media and apparently the dude paid a hefty sum to be able to hunt down a Markhor.
The man was identified to be an American hunter named Christopher. Smirking while holding the corpse by the horns, Christopher looked content with his deceased prize.
While the Markhor is considered to be a near threatened species, licenses for its hunts are being issued by the government. As confusing as it may sound, Christopher paid a hefty sum of $100,ooo to be able to take the shot.
Another man has allegedly paid $1.05 million to hunt the Markhor in Gilgit Baltistan today
The story has ruffled some feathers in Pakistan and it is evident all over social media.
Pakistanis have been lashing out on Twitter and Facebook about the entire ordeal. The hunt and the photoshoot have not resonated well with Pakistanis and they have made sure to convey the distress the incident has caused them to the people in charge.
Only a haramkhor can hunt endangered markhor.
— Ahmed kb (@ehmadkarim) January 17, 2019
Plzzz ban on markhor hunt
— Pakistan Zindabad (@Agha00000000) January 19, 2019
What we couldn’t wrap our head around was the fact that this hunt is actually legal and permitted by the Government of Pakistan
Hence, I did some research to ensure where the problem was. Since the Markhor is a protected animal and is being looked after, having the government issue licenses and condone such gruesome acts of violence appeared to be a simple case of negligence and ineffective legal protocols, all of which sounded absurd.
The term “trophy hunting” was being brought up in every social media article which sounded even more inhumane given the said circumstances. However, upon further research, we discovered that trophy hunting is an official term given to the hunting of endangered animals which is said to have beneficial outcomes.
Trophy Hunting is a WWF supported program and is effective around the globe. By the laws of the trophy hunting program, hunters have to pay for a hefty sum to the wildlife department of the said area, $100k in our case, in order to get a permit to hunt.
The permit allows for a set number of a specific endangered wildlife animal to be hunted which are either aged, ailing, or weak
Hunting down healthy animals or younger ones is strictly prohibited and can have serious repercussions. The money is then used for activities and for efforts to ensure the perseverance of these wild animals. We also unearthed the fact that Christopher, who has been receiving shit for the hunt, was allowed to hunt only 4 Markhors, and this was his third.
The strategy seems like a feasible option given the poor economic standing of the country at the given time. If the Markhor, that was hunted, was actually very old or near its due time; having made some money for the protection and conservation program of the remaining Markhor community does not sound to be like a bad deal.
There’s another interesting plus side to this very sad story.
80% of the revenue generated from these license permits are given to the local community to allow the natives of Chitral and other districts to make efforts to take stern actions against illegal Markhor hunts and to protect their habitats.
Seems like the plan isn’t as bad as it looked in Christopher’s picture. While the act in itself may have been inhuman and vile, the intention behind the said legal plan seems to be feasible and beneficial for the protection of the remaining Markhor community, which is a serious concern given we have only a few thousands of them left.
Do let us know your thoughts on this matter. Is the “trophy hunting” program a good idea? Should it continue to exist?
Read more about treatment of animals in Pakistan: