Pakistan Today interviewed Amjad Gilani, a hunting champion who holds the world record 4 years in a row for the ‘biggest trophy hunt’ in Africa, and stands unchallenged as of date. The former is also a member of Safari Club International, and a strong believer in the concept of ‘conservation’ of wildlife.
As I sit waiting for him to arrive, I look around his office at the immaculate sight of the trophies that hang on the walls. All these years, the achievements (as he likes to call them) hang with that much pride around his humble abode. As he finally arrives, he gestures for me to sit on a comfortable sofa-cum-bed, where I realize I’m going to spend a lot of interesting hours questioning him about his experiences.
“I’ve held the record for World’s biggest trophy hunter in for years now, unchallenged and unbeaten up to date,” Amjad Gilani tells me, lighting up a cigarette and sipping on a glass of Coke that the male servant has just brought in; there are fresh kebabs too. “I am an ordinary man, nothing out-of-this-world, but I believe that once you have the will power to do anything, you become anything but average,” he chuckles, and I realize immediately that this man is not your every-day hunter to be messed with.
Taking up the art and acquiring it as heritage (hunting being a sport played by his father and grandfather, having ancestral roots), the love of animals runs in his veins. “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t into the sport, yes sport I call it, and it should be treated as such; unfortunately we don’t have a lot being done in Pakistan for the purpose,” he exclaims, a vague sadness in his eyes as he bites onto a kebab.
Being a member of ‘Safari Club International’ which is a wildlife group acting internationally, Amjad has been rewarded certificates for his various achievements all over the world. From South Africa’s remote areas to New Zealand to Scotland and back to Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan), Amjad has gone to every nook and corner in search of wild life that excites him to the utmost.
“When you eat meat, you sacrifice a goat or cow for it, why is this any different? People all over the world preserve their beloved animals after their deaths through the process of taxidermies; they hire professionals to preserve their animals for them that they keep with them throughout their lives,” he adds, giving me a questioning look as if to see if I’m satisfied with his answer or not. “Yes, I believe so,” I state, as I wander off to place in my mind where my favourite cat, Lucy, resides. I never thought of doing that for her, but it seemed like a good idea, although I realize that I am 2 years too late.
“I’ve been a member of Safari Club International for two years, and they played my slides in their international convention for atleast 10 minutes, which is amazing, since the movie itself is for an hour, comprising of all the hunters world-wide, and I was the only Pakistani entering that convention. I’m proud to be a part of this association,” Amjad Gilani lights up another cigarette, this time without the Coke and kebabs as we are done with both.
“You know the most expensive trophies are in our own country, and basically the reason why so many foreigners come here in search of Markhor,” he tells me this as his eyes light up with passion for the wild beauties he has seen around the world. “Blue sheep expeditions have made them rich, and all of the hunts have been by foreigners. I was the first Pakistani to go up in the alps searching for that, and came closest but it was an unsuccessful hunt. It’s alright I guess, as I went in extreme weather of January when everyone told me it would be dangerous, considering that I’m diabetic and there was a lot of climbing involved,” he laughed at the thought of him getting really sick in those areas and not being able to travel at all. I shuddered at the thought of extreme cold and climbing hilly areas with a lot of land-sliding. Only a person as passionate and obsessed as him could have done that.
Stressing on the need for conservation, he delights us with the thought of also conserving our animals, and restricting people from only shooting animals and not letting reproduction take place. “We need to conserve our wildlife, like they do in other countries. We need to bring forward the idea of conservation of animals and plants in our country; we can do wonders if this is acted upon,” he claims, informing me that there are no active wild life groups in Pakistan as yet, except for the one he is well acquainted with in Gilgit-Baltistan. “You know what those people do? They have set up their own committee; foreigners get a permit for a couple of bucks, and that money is spent on conservation or on solving their community’s personal issues: getting a couple married, financial aid for education, hospital funds, you name it.”
“When these CBO’s collect so many funds, why can’t we do the same? It will do wonders for the economy. Where do you think South Africa gets all its funds from?” He smiles at me as he asks me this question. “I think by wildlife, letting foreigners hunt in their land,” I answer, and he nods in appreciation, realizing that I have been listening intently and satisfied that his words have not gone in vain.
“I spent 10 days in Shimshaal village, a place near Passu, which comes when you cross Gilgit. The area is hilly and uneven terrain doesn’t let cars pass, so we went by foot. We (friends) climbed one of the highest mountain peak of the world, the expedition was entirely new to us; we did not catch the blue sheep but we learnt a lot,” he adds on to the story, as his mother, Razia Gilani, joins us. She sits on the other couch opposite her son’s spot, admiring him and his little place full of his favourite toys. Yes, we see a man obsessed with his passion, but she sees her little boy in love with his favourite toys.
“BASC is an organization affiliated with hunting for over 100 years now, and it also stresses upon the need to conserve. I don’t see why you cannot have a hobby like this while you are also taking care of your animals.
The only Pakistani up-to-date having his expeditions being shown at the International Safari Club Convention held in the United States every year, Amjad Gilani tells us that this isn’t the end to his achievements, there’s more. “I’ve been teaching my sons to shoot a rifle correctly, and they’ve learnt a great deal with time. My brother owns a club in London and he teaches people to professionally shoot and hold the rifle. It’s in our blood, like I said. We are proud learners, and now we are teachers too,” he smiles, figuring that we are nearing the end of our oh-so-interesting conversation. “I hunted 17 species in South Africa on a provincial level, and the antelope that I hunt is still the biggest uptodate. 39 inches is the size of its horns (being measured by horn-size), and the largest in the world is 41 inches, that I slightly missed while shooting this one. I could’ve been in the Guiness Book of world records you know,” he lets out a meager laugh, a laugh of a passionate man who has not been lucky enough, but lucky still. “Although now, I focus more on teaching people and my own two sons hold records up in the mountains too. I give my students (sons) training on gun safety, how to hold a rifle, how they’re supposed to deal with accidents if God forbid they occue, and how to play the game in general. Rules and regulations apply everywhere, you cannot reach any place without them.”
As I thank him for his hospitality and the really tasty kebabs and Coke combo, I ask him a little about his life at home and if he has any words of advice for his readers, or people who are interested in learning more about hunting. He tells me with lit-up eyes that he has two sons, Shah Meeran and Zeeshan, the older one (Meeran) being 20 and the younger being 17. “My wife is studying at the Lahore School of Home Economics, she wanted to do her PhD. I thrive on letting everyone do what they will for, because that’s what makes the most of whatever you want to be in life. The simple rule to happiness is doing whatever you want, and it’s that simple.”
With his final words in my mind revolving like a mantra, I thank him and his mother as I pack my bag and get ready to leave. This has been one of the most interesting conversations I have had up till date, with one of the most amazingly strong and passionate (not to mention fully charged on will power) man that I have ever met, and I hope his ideas of hunting as a sport, the idea of conservation and CBO’s, training and teaching for the rules and regulations of the game and overall crux of achievement enlightens every weak mind in the world; if a diabetic can climb up mountain peaks with only will power and passion, in search of his sunrise, then so can you.
Congrats Amjad Bhai for achieving this status and holding on to our family tradition of hunting. I wish u success in years to come and i hope one u will think of donating one of your trophy to me as a gift .Please given my regards to Chaca Muzzaffar and congrats to all.
Congratulations Amjad bhai . Indeed it is a matter of proud for the whole family and that is just because of YOU.
Congratulations Sir, wonderful hunting…
Good going Sir, we are waiting for your name in next Guiness Book. Best of Luck
Comments are closed.