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A quota of four markhors, eight blue sheep (pictured above) and six ibexes has been fixed this season. PHOTO SOURCE: TVBLOGS.NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC.COM

GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government has announced the licence fee for this year’s hunting season with Pakistan’s national animal Markhor topping the list at $70,000.

According to an official of the G-B Wildlife and Environment Department, Sajjad Haider, permits will be auctioned on November 11 in Gilgit and the hunting season will continue till April 2014. A quota of four markhors, eight blue sheep and six ibexes has been fixed this season.

The rate for hunting blue sheep is fixed at $12,000. The cost for hunting ibex varies, with international hunters having to pay $3,000 for a permit. Pakistani hunters, however, can purchase a licence for almost half that amount, Rs150,000, while the same is available for a G-B hunter at Rs60,000.

Last year, a fee of $6,250 and $2,500 (for international hunters) had been fixed for blue sheep and ibex, respectively.

Interested people have been asked to deposit $10,000 for markhor, $2,000 for blue sheep and $1,000 for ibex as guarantee prior to participation in the permit auction.

The trophy hunting programme that started in the 1990s has been going on every year in G-B. It is carried out under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wildlife and is allowed only in the notified areas of G-B in collaboration with the concerned communities.

According to last year’s statistics, revenue generated from the trophy hunting programme in the region was $1,246,740.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) the markhor population in Pakistan has increased.  Surveys last year suggested  the population in all of Gilgit-Baltistan may now be as high as 1,500 animals. According to government estimates, in 1999 there were less than 1,000 markhors in the area.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2013.