SHC declares houbara bustard hunting permits illegal


Allowing a petition that challenged legality of the special permits issued to the Arab dignitaries for hunting internationally protected houbara bustard, the Sindh High Court (SHC) Friday declared issuance of these permits illegal.

A division bench headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah announced its ruling after recording final arguments from both the sides.

The petitioners, Lal Khan Chandio and Rahib Kalhoro, had approached the court pleading it to declare as unconstitutional the issuance of special permits to the Arab dignitaries and order the suspension of the same.

The petitioners’ counsel had submitted that the federal government had issued licenses to various Arab dignitaries for hunting the endangered houbara bustard (locally know as Tiloor) in violation of the international laws. This was not the first time the government had issued the permits but this illegal act was being perpetuated for many years.

He said that houbara bustard also figured on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list as vulnerable was feared to be decreasing by 30 percent a year in Pakistan alone.

He said this bird was declared to be among endangered species in 1912 and a permanent ban on its hunting was placed in 1971. Although a ban already existed, another ban was imposed on hunting in 1992 albeit with provision of special temporary license for Arab royals. He said this provision was also struck down by the court in 1993 when it was approached but the practice of hunting was still continuing unabated.

Salman Talibudin, additional attorney general, argued that hunting of the endangered wildlife was not permitted in the areas declared as Wildlife Sanctuaries and National Parks. However, under Section 16 of the Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972, the government may declare any area as game reserve where hunting and shooting of wildlife shall not be allowed except special permits which may specify the maximum number of animals or birds that may be killed or captured.