He came to Pakistan with a license to hunt just around 100 of them, but by the time Saudi Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud left the country, he shot down 2,100 Houbara bustards.
The license was valid for 10 days and the prince was allowed to hunt in a specified area. However, the Saudi royal and his team kept up the hunt for three weeks, resulting in the deaths of thousands of the birds. "Is there any more ridiculous reason to kill an animal?" asks Naeem Sadiq, one of the activists whose petition created a dust storm in Houbara hunting land. "If it's illegal for Pakistanis to kill these birds, why should the Arab sheikhs be allowed to do it?"
He is a well intentioned, but simple man and probably doesn’t understand the complexity of it all.
The population of Houbara bustards has declined rapidly over the past couple of decades due to unsustainable levels of hunting and habitat degradation. While hunting them is strictly prohibited for locals, the government of Pakistan issues limited permits annually and most of them are for royalty and influential people from Arab states.
Last year 33 special permits were granted to dignitaries of five countries of the Gulf region during the hunting season 2013-14, but at the same time, the authorities announced the suspension of hunting for the 2014-2015 to rejuvenate Houbara bustard numbers.
Until the late 1970s, the Arab royals kept up their hobby in Iran and Afghanistan, but things have changed and these lands are no longer quite so welcoming. That leaves Pakistan, but even its government is telling the Saudi royals to stay away next hunting season. As a result, the prince was probably trying to make up for the Houbara bustards he won’t bag next season. Can you really blame him considering the bird supposedly has aphrodisiac qualities? He is, after all, an Arab royal who really is not acquainted with the concept of limits, respecting laws and valuing lives - be they human or animal ones.
Now in all likelihood, none of the government officials or locals felt they had the authority to stop an Arab royal or were paid-off handsomely enough to turn a blind eye.
Also, the recent ‘gift’ of $1.5 billion to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia will buy you a lot of Houbara bustards. What’s a mere 2,100?