Last week, Pakistani newspapers published a photo that attracted enormous public attention, according to the Washington Post. It’s a photo of a dead wild goat and the American hunter who paid $ 110,000 for this “pleasure”, smiling next to its dead body.
“It takes a few seconds to realize that the animal, in this case, a wild goat of endangered species (Capra falconeri), is dead,” the newspaper said.
Newspapers in Pakistan state that the US hunter Brian Kinsel Harlan killed the animal during a tourist expedition to the north of Pakistan.
The whole story has led to sorrow and rage on social networks in Pakistan. But who’s behind all this? Three Americans in Pakistan killed three such goats last month. According to Pakistani officials and animal protection groups, the practice of killing helps to conserve and save rare and endangered species of animals.
This unique goat is called a “horned markhor”, the national animal of Pakistan, which can stand 4 feet tall and weigh up to 300 pounds.
Previously, goats were hunted for their meat, disappeared due to deforestation, military activities, and uncontrolled hunt for their horns. By 2011, only 2,500 goats remained alive.
Several years ago, animal welfare officials have begun an action to preserve the species. Pakistan has banned hunting but allowed a handful of foreign hunters to kill 12 bucks in the season.
According to Shafqat Hussain, an anthropology professor at Trinity College and a National Geographic emerging explorer:
“Numbers were down for the three species of the markhor in Pakistan. The estimate for the Astor markhor [the kind the hunter felled] was about 100 in the Gilgit-Balistan region.
Someone from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which issues this red list of threatened species, floated the idea of using these magnificent goats in Pakistan to start a trophy hunting program with an incentive structure for local communities to participate. Twelve permits are issued a year for hunts and 80 percent of the money goes back to the local villages.
The program was funded by the Global Environmental Facility of the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme and implemented by the government of Pakistan, with advice from the IUCN. Initially, it was a $3 million project.
The project was scaled up to $10 million in 1997 and expanded to more valleys and other species.
The population of Astor markhor is about 1,200. In 2015, the IUCN [moved the markhor] from endangered to “near threatened” status. [IUCN states the population for all markhor is now 5,754 “mature individuals.”
That’s why the hunter Harlan believes he contributed to the preservation of the endangered species of goats.
“This is a perfect example when hunters from around the world unite with local peasants for a higher purpose, to preserve the species”- he says.