A leading environmental group working for conservation of flora and fauna has sought intervention of the External Affairs Ministry to put pressure on Pakistan to ban hunting of rare birds, Houbara bustards, which has drastically reduced India's share of their annual winter migration and affected the desert eco-system.
The hunting of Houbara bustards, taxonomically classified as Clamydotis undulata, through falconry in Pakistan has led to an alarming decline in their numbers. The poaching mainly in Sindh province along the international border is not only a cause of serious concern for India but also in violation of wildlife protection laws and international conventions. The Tourism & Wildlife Society of India has pointed out in a letter to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid that the desert regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat are not benefiting from the rare birds as a result of their hunting in Pakistan. The species has been declared vulnerable due to a more than 60 per cent decline in its global population even as India's share in the Houbara's migration is “bagged” in the neighbouring country.
TWSI honorary general secretary Harsh Vardhan has requested Mr. Khurshid to intervene and ensure that Pakistan imposes a complete ban on “wanton falconry” as such acts amount to a “brazen mockery” of the conservation legislation.
India invited similar falconry during 1970s when the Arab royals used to camp in western Rajasthan districts and hunt the great Indian bustards, Houbara bustards and other endangered birds. This practice was brought to a halt forever in 1978-79 through public protests in Jaipur, New Delhi and Mumbai and finally through a stay order granted by the Rajasthan High Court.