Ibex and Urial Hunting in Pakistan

Trophy hunting of Ibex and Urial takes place in December each year and continues until March in the “game reserves” of Sindh.These game reserves are Eri, Sumbak, Surjan and Hothiano.

The permits issued for trophy hunting are valid for seven days, but hunting is not allowed in the Kirthar National Park and 33 Sindh Wildlife Sanctuaries.

Similarly, hunting of female Ibexes and Urials and their fawns is prohibited. Official statistics put the number of Sindh Ibexes across the province at 16,599 and the number of Urials at around 3,165.

Trophy hunting is allowed in four “game reserves” of the Wildlife Department, which are located in Thana Bula Khan taluka of the mountainous Kohistan region in Jamshoro district.

Mumtaz Soomro of the Sindh Wildlife Department says that Urials with 35 inches long horns and Ibexes with 22 inches long horns are offered for trophy hunting. “Long-horned Ibexes and Urials are old and have lived their average life,” he added. “The average lifespan of an Ibex and Urial is around 15 years.” According to Soomro, 80% of money earned from trophy hunting permits fees is spent on the health, education and other needs of the community responsible for the protection of the game reserves, while the rest goes to the provincial kitty. He said that trophy hunting discourages illegal poaching as it motivates the communities to protect the animals.

There are 15,539 Ibexes and 2,529 Urials in the Kirthar National Park, while the number of Ibexes and Urials in the game reserves if 1,060 Ibex and 536, respectively.

Soomro said that this season in 2023, 15 Ibexes and 5 Urials are up for trophy hunting for foreign hunters against a fee of $5,600 and $14,000 per trophy, respectively. Five Ibex trophies will be up for hunting for Pakistani citizens against a minimum fee of Rs.300,000.

To curb illegal hunting and to generate funds for conservation efforts, permits for trophy hunting of the urial, native to Punjab, are issued every year but this time around there were no takers for the permits.

The wild sheep, known as urial, is widely regarded as the provincial animal for Punjab and due to its dwindling population it is considered a huge prize for trophy hunters.

Keeping that in mind, the Punjab Wildlife had planned to conduct its hunting from December 2022 to March 2023.

Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Climate Change, had issued 16 permits for trophy hunting to the province of Punjab; the first auction of these permits was to be held on 5th December and the second auction on 8th December. However, both times, no hunters took part in the exercise.

As the permits were not bought, local Community Based Organisations (CBOs), responsible for conservation efforts, will be amongst the worst affectees as they receive 80% of the revenue generated from trophy hunting.

Resultantly, the urial population, which used to be more than 4,000 strong a few years ago, and is presently only a few hundred, will dwindle even further.

On the other hand, Mudassar Hasan, Deputy Director of Punjab Wildlife, was asked if any other methods could be used to help conservation efforts of the animal, instead of trophy hunting.

“We only conduct trophy hunting after we receive a quota from the Ministry of Climate Change and after having conducted a survey of the areas where the population of the animal is higher. Only then are hunters allowed to hunt the urial,” Hassan explained

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