Dec 222017

After the Sindh Wildlife Department expelled a Qatari hunting party from Thar, officials from the department alleged on Friday that they are now being pressured by the federal government to allow a royal guest from Bahrain to hunt in the area.

Local officials claimed that the Qatari hunting party, led by Sheikh Fahad Abdullah Abdul Rehman Al Thani, reached Thar and hunted in the desert areas of Diplo and Nagarparkar districts for a few days, before being asked to leave by Wildlife Department officials in Thar.

District Game Officer (DGO) for Thar Ashfaque Memon while talking to Dawn confirmed visit of the royal entourage to the area. According to Memon, the group had not sought any permits for hunting, neither from the district authorities and nor from the provincial government.

Memon said that the group's camps were dislodged and they were asked to leave the area while a First Offence Report (FOR) was registered against Barkatullah, a local who allegedly facilitated the royal hunters.

According to the DGO, an investigation into any birds poached by the hunters is still underway. He added that only UAE's Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has hunting allotment in Thar and he has not visited the area for past seven years.

Memon added that the federal government has been trying to allow other guests to hunt in the area, which is a violation of Pakistan's wildlife laws.

The DGO told Dawn that he is currently being "pressured" by the federal government to allow Bahrain's Sheikh Ahmed Khalifa and his team to hunt rare bird species including the houbara bustard in the area.

He said that he had already informed his bosses regarding the situation so that they take the issue up with the federal government.

According to Memon, Sheikh Kalifa is expected to arrive in Thar during next two to three days.

Sources privy to the development told Dawn that royal hunters — who come to Thar under the pretence of conducting relief operations for Tharis — are given full security by police and Rangers.

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