US National Pays Rs.13 Million Fee To Hunt Markhor In Chitral

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Tourism industry if harnessed effectively can contribute $10 billion to Pakistan’s GDP and enhance the country’s soft image.

PKONWEB Report: A US citizen paid $100,000 (Rs13 million) permit fee to hunt a Kashmir markhor in Toshi game reserve near Chitral, officials said on Saturday.

An official of the Wildlife Department told media that Christopher purchased a hunting permit from the Wildlife Department at Rs13 million and also deposited Rs10,000 for the shooting license.

Every year two hunting permits of Kashmir markhor (mountain screw horn goat)are auctioned for different game sanctuaries in Chitral, the official said.

The markhor Christopher hunted was a 10-year-old whose horns measured 44 inches.

Markhor, the national animal of Pakistan, is a protected species under the law. The species was classed by the IUCN as Endangered until 2015 when it was downgraded to Near Threatened, as their numbers have increased in recent years by an estimated 20% for the last decade.

The District Forest Officer said that “the hunting trophy license is issued after proper auction at an international level by the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Switzerland”.

Annually, four hunting trophy licenses are issued for Markhor hunting, he added.

The country’s Wildlife Department collects between $80,000 and $100,000 for every markhor hunted by highest bidders. Two hunters from USA and Switzerland who arrived in Chitral by a helicopter bought permits for hunting of Markhor and Ibex.

The official said out of the permit fee, 80 per cent goes to the local community fund which is utilized on collective welfare.

The money received from the trophy hunting program goes to local communities which spend it on education, health and other development projects. The remaining 20 per cent money is deposited in the government exchequer.

Pakistan is fast becoming a tourism hub with its changing geo-strategic situation, improvement of internal as well as regional peace and more importantly the liberalization of tourists’ visa policy.

In its recently published ranking, Forbes has enlisted Pakistan among “The 10 Coolest Places to Go in 2019′ along with Bhutan, Columbia, Mexico, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Rwanda, The Turkish Rivera and Portugal.

According to Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, around 1.7 million foreigners visited Pakistan in 2017 showing a remarkable increase in the ratio of tourists’ influx while domestic travelers jumped by 30 per cent.

As a major step forward to promote tourism, Pakistan has also announced visa-on-arrival option to group tourists and businessmen from 24 and 55 countries respectively.

Tourism industry if harnessed effectively can contribute $10 billion to Pakistan’s GDP and enhance the country’s soft image, experts say.

Pakistan was last a prominent tourist destination in the 1970s when the “hippie trail” brought Western travelers through the apricot and walnut orchards of the Swat Valley and Kashmir on their way to India and Nepal. Since then, a deteriorating security situation chipped away at the number of visitors.

Following Pakistan’s participation in the US-led war in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, the country was rocked by a decade of regular large-scale attacks. Security has since improved dramatically, with attacks down sharply in the country of 208 million people. British Airways last month announced it would resume flights to Pakistan next year after a 10-year absence and becoming the first Western airline to restart such flights.

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