Texas big game hunter reportedly paid Pakistani authorities $110,000 to hunt rare Himalayan mountain goat
The money was paid to authorities who oversee a state-run conservation program aimed at reducing poaching of the wild Astore Markhor, the national animal of Pakistan
A Texan big game trophy hunter faced backlash after he paid over $110,000 to kill a rare Himalayan mountain goat. Interestingly, the money was paid to authorities who oversee a state-run conservation program aimed at reducing poaching of the wild Astore Markhor, the national animal of Pakistan, which was endangered at one point.
Bryan Harlan wanted to hunt the rare screw-horn goat that resides in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of the northern Himalayas. In order to obtain a license for the same, he paid a sizeable amount to local authorities, Daily Mail reports.
Harlan, a mortgage banking executive from Dallas, is seen in one YouTube video firing at least one shot into a markhor, forcing the startled animal to leap into the air. Soon, the businessman is seen celebrating the kill with another member of his hunting party. A group of men is then seen dragging the corpse up a mountain, where Harlan poses with it for a photo.
In a conversation with a local TV station, Harlan said, "It is an honor and privilege to be back in Pakistan. This is the third time I am in Pakistan. I have hunted almost all animals here. I saved the markhors for the last."
Animal rights activists have severely criticized the hunts after it was reported that in the past month, Harlan and two other American big game hunters paid to hunt three markhor goats in northern Pakistan.
But Pakistani officials have a different take on the issue. According to them, the kills have actually helped conserve the species from possible extinction.
In 2011, reports indicated there were only 2,500 markhors left in the wild due to deforestation, military actions, poaching for food and hunters seeking their horns, which can apparently grow up to five feet long. Efforts to preserve their dwindling population were significantly ramped up after the news broke.
While local hunting of the animals is illegal, Pakistan allows foreign nationals to kill up to 12 male goats per season with a permit for each hunt. According to authorities, a major chunk of the excessive fee directly goes to local communities residing near the markhor population, while 20 percent of the earnings is directed towards various wildlife agencies in the country.
The markhor numbers released in 2015 proved their point, with the US moving its threat level from "endangered" down to "threatened". According to Green Global Travel, a conservation group, the markhor population rise has been "one of the world's little-known conversation success stories."
In a conversation with The Washington Post, Pakistani hunter Tabarak Ullah, who guides foreigners in their hunting trips, said that the hunts promote tourism, conservation, and pump money into local communities.
"This is not just about hunting," Ullah said. "The number of animals is increasing, and these foreign hunters are millionaires who go back and tell the world that Pakistan is safe."
Harlan, a founding partner of Plano-based Benchmark Mortgage, is also heard in the YouTube video praising Pakistan and describing it as a beautiful country that isn't visited enough. "You're missing out," he says.