Relentless conservation work has finally paid off and several conservation groups working in the country have reported a strong comeback of the once Critically Endangered Markhor in the KPK province. The population has surged to a considerable extent and citing the increase in population, the KPK government has called in bids for this year’s hunting licenses although the fee for a single trophy has been set to be a mammoth US$70,000.
Earlier, the Pir Panjal Markhor, one of the dominant specie in the KPK province, was categorized as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, a direct outcome of unbridled hunting and poaching. One of the major conservation programs financed and executed was with the help of University of Montana, College of Forestry and Conservation where the experts adopted several modern conservation techniques to save the animal.
Elaborate data collection utilizing the motion sensor cameras and radio collars, Pakistan’s National animal was brought back from the brink of extinction and now freely roams the lush forests of Chitral Gol National Park, Tooshi Shasha, Gehrait, Kaigah and other mountainous regions of the province. Increase in the Markhor population in turn has a positive impact in the population of yet another Critically Endangered species of Pakistan, the formidable Snow Leopard.
The success of the community based conservation program initiated and executed in the late 90’s has helped raise the number of animals from ~150 to no fewer than 1500. The local villagers and herdsmen have now realized the importance of the animal in the region as the money collected through trophy hunting is directed to the welfare of the communities in the region. For example, since 1998, the hunting license fee alone has generated $1,057,500 USD in revenues, 79.7% of which ($843,300) went directly to the local community in which the hunt occurred.
The hunting permits for the current season will be issued on November 11 and the hunting will carry on till April 2014. A quota of four Markhors, eight blue sheep and six ibexes has been fixed this season while the rate for hunting a blue sheep is fixed at US$12,000, US$3,000 for Ibex and US$70,000 for a single Markhor. The licenses are issued under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wildlife (CITES).
The authorities have limited total number of licenses and only four animals will be permitted to be hunted down under the supervision of the government and local representatives.