Sustainable Utilization of Natural Resources: a community Based Conservation Effort in Bar Valley, Gilgit, Pakistan

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Trophy hunting program

As mentioned earlier, the core concept behind the project was for sustainable hunting of the ibex. The project was heavily dependent on the cooperation of the 41 local hunters. The complete ban on hunting not only affected the hunters directly, but also other community members. While not all members of the community hunted, many benefited indirectly from the hunting activities by receiving meat from their relatives and friends who did. Efforts were thus needed to appease the hunters as well as the other villagers to avoid the possibility of poaching. Even if a few non-hunting families had remained unattended by the project, total control over hunting, which was the utmost priority of the project, would have become difficult.

The feasibility study had already proposed that a sum of Rs. 240,000 (US$ 8,000) be given for distribution amongst the 240 families of Bar Valley. This would not only compensate the community immediately for the loss of the wild meat, but also involve every household in the program. Additionally, it was assumed the communities would either change their food habits or replace wild meat with meat from other sources. This money was a loan and was to be returned to WWF/Pakistan upon the commencement of the trophy hunting program.

Regular censuses were conducted, and the ibex were counted by age and sex. It was recommended that 10% of the mature males (over 8 years of age) could be used for trophy hunting when there was a minimum population of 50 mature and over mature animals in the entire valley (273 km2) and the total population of ibex was approximately 500. Except for two minor violations, there were no reported poaching problems. As a result, the animal population grew and in April 1994, more than 500 animals were counted.

Based on the population census of ibex for April 1994, the government of the North Western Frontier Provinces recommended that five ibex be allowed for trophy hunting. This was endorsed by the local administration and a formal request was sent to the Federal Government to lift the ban and issue the permits for hunting to take place. Because the villages’ protection activities were successful, the Government of Pakistan allowed five trophy hunting permits and endorsed the idea that the local communities would earn a profit as proposed in the project. The Government of Pakistan allowed five licenses for the hunting of ibex in the valley; 75% of the revenue was to be given to the local communities and 25% to the government as a management fee.

A fixed license fee and quota was agreed upon in consultation with the wildlife department and other partners of the project. The fee for international hunters was US$ 3,000 while Pakistani hunters were charged Rs.25,000 (US$ 830).

The local village council and WWF/Pakistan decided upon the use of revenue from trophy hunting and other tourist related activities to fund further development and conservation projects. Government departments were encouraged to use their share of the income for conservation purposes, preferably in the project or surrounding areas.

From the revenue collected a health care center was constructed. Currently (1996), WWF/Pakistan is also training selected villagers in organizing tours to some of the famous valleys in the area to further diversify the ecotourism activities in the area.

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