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Animal hunting in Pakistan deserves no applause

This article was originally published on March 13, 2015.

An Italian national flew 5,157 kilometers to Pakistan, travelled 234 miles north to Gilgit-Baltistan, trekked through the mountainous terrain to a secluded wildlife conservatory near the Pak-China border, and paid $8000 to fatally shoot a sheep.

Verily, man’s place at the top of the food chain is finally secure.

Making rounds on social media, is news of the record set by Boieti Gian Carlo for hunting a blue sheep with 32-inch horns – the largest in Pakistan, and the second-largest in the world.

I admit that my snark-laden review of this incident is clearly tainted by my bias against the general concept of hunting animals for sport. I wouldn’t want to single out any hunter in my tirade against the greater culture of hunting, and glorification of men and women who partake in this “sport”.

I believe the significance of elaborate hunts such as these cannot be overstated in limning what’s become the grand philosophy of the human species. From the highest mountain to the deepest ocean, wherever our noble relatives of the animal kingdom may hide; with the unfaltering determination of Liam Neeson, we will find them, and we will kill them.

Why? Just ‘cause.

In fact, as this blog is being penned, I’m receiving word of a raiding party en route to the Mariana’s Trench, to search and destroy that last non-human species rumored to have been spared by poachers, man-made climate change, floating islands of ocean garbage, and our voracious appetite for meat.

It was different when our ancestors went spear-hunting to acquire resources necessary to sustain life. To some degree, I can even understand (though not happily condone) the animal deaths caused either directly for meat and fur, or through negligence in the pursuit of some other human goal.

What I’m particularly intrigued by, is the psychology behind killing an animal to savour the act of killing itself.

There is no real resource to be acquired, but rather, a staggering amount of resource to be spent on attaining the satisfaction of shooting a harmless beast as it insouciantly grazes grass atop a serene mountain. The only physical prize to come out of it is a severed part of its anatomy to be mounted on the wall, as a reminder of the blissful day one shot something dead.

When I say there’s resource to be spent, I mean it. The prized markhor – a rare wild goat with majestic spiral horns – costs a hunter a whopping $62,000 to shoot at.

And note that according to the rules, the hunting license is valid for a single shot only.

Saudi royals have been known to spend lavishly on Pakistani conservatories and affiliated towns to curry favour with locals, for their love of hunting houbara bustards.

Also read: Saudi Royal on Houbara Bustard hunting spree in Balochistan

There’s dark humor to be found in the fact that 80 per cent of the money made from selling hunting licenses, goes back into preserving biodiversity and maintaining our conservatories.

I wonder, if this utilitarian approach can be applied to impoverished human communities; to allow wealthy hunters to fire non-lethal darts at the Congolese people as they innocently work on their farms. But not to worry! The money from this cruel exercise would go back to providing food and clean-water to the good people of Congo.

Jeremy Bentham famously argued that it’s not a creature’s identicalness to the human species which determines the morality of harming it; it’s a matter of whether that animal can suffer.

The activities we enjoy and applaud make a statement about who we are, just as it did for the ancient Romans who cheered on grizzly, deathly combats at the Coliseum.

For those of us who venerate the sport of killing animals, that statement isn’t very comforting.


Correction: The article erroneously stated that 20 per cent of the money made from selling hunting licenses went to wildlife development. The correct figure is 80 per cent. The error is regretted and has been fixed.


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Faraz Talat is a doctor from Rawalpindi who writes mostly about science and prevalent social issues.

He tweets @FarazTalat


The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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