For decades, royal Arab hunting expeditions have traveled to the far reaches of Pakistan in pursuit of the houbara bustard — a waddling, migratory bird whose meat, they believe, contains aphrodisiac powers.
Little expense is spared for the elaborate winter hunts. Cargo planes fly tents and luxury jeeps into custom-built desert airstrips, followed by private jets carrying the kings and princes of Persian Gulf countries along with their precious charges: expensive hunting falcons that are used to kill the white-plumed houbara.
This year’s hunt, however, has run into difficulty.
It started in November, when the High Court in Baluchistan, the vast and tumultuous Pakistani province that is a favored hunting ground, canceled all foreign hunting permits in response to complaints from conservationists.
Those experts say the houbara’s habitat, and perhaps the long-term survival of the species, which is already considered threatened, has been endangered by the ferocious pace of hunting.