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Himalayan Ibex Hunting in Gilgit Baltistan

GB is rich with flora and fauna because of its varied climatic conditions and ecosystem. The region is home to many rare species, such as Marco Polo sheep, ibex, markhor, urial, blue sheep, lynx, snow leopard, leopard cat, brown and black bears,

Himalayan ibex are found at about 3,660 meter to over 5,000 Meter height in Pakistan, in summer but these can be seen at below 2,135 meter during snow fall in winter.  Himalayan Ibex is symbol of arid and rocky mountain of Karakoram, Hindukush and Himalayas of Gilgit-Baltistan. The males have heavy body, large horns, long bears and females are small body small horns. Its presence in its natural habitat is essential to maintain healthy ecosystem. The threats that Himalayan ibex face are the illegal hunting, human disturbance, habitat loss and competition for forage with domestic livestock. However, the ibex has a wider distribution and is plentiful and its future survival is not so threatened in Pakistan largely due to the inaccessibility of its habitat, due to extensive concentration of high mountain ranges in the extreme north western regions. Average size of sheep is 38-40 inches with occasional 42 inches trophy taken. Average size of sheep is 38-40 inches with occasional 42 inches trophy taken. The Himalayan ibex is widespread in the higher mountain ranges of Karakoram, Hindukush and Himalayan mountain ranges, of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The hunting season in the region begins in November and ends in April. According to officials, the trophy hunting quota was created on the basis of annual surveys conducted by wildlife experts. Last year, licence for hunting Astor markhor was auctioned for $55,700. The officials said the previous trophy hunting programmed earned $248,000. Eighty per cent of the money received from the trophy hunting programme goes to local communities which spend it on education, health and other development projects. The remaining 20 per cent money is deposited in the government exchequer.

GB is rich with flora and fauna because of its varied climatic conditions and ecosystem. The region is home to many rare species, such as Marco Polo sheep, ibex, markhor, urial, blue sheep, lynx, snow leopard, leopard cat, brown and black bears, wolf, fox, marmote, chakor and ram chakor and golden eagle. However, some of these rare species are facing the threat of extinction due to illegal hunting, negligence of the wildlife department and the climate change related issues.

According to Mr Karim who has been associated with the field of wildlife for 35 years and is a member of the community conservative wildlife committee in Passu village of upper Hunza the population of protected animals is shrinking rapidly in the region. He says that the major cause of the endangered animals’ shrinking population is illegal hunting for which he blames negligence of the wildlife department’s officials. Foreign tourists and influential people from across the country visit the region for hunting every year, he says, adding that they get hunting permits from the wildlife department but always violate hunting rules. Besides, he adds, there is a large-scale illegal hunting in the region.

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