The northern areas of Pakistan contain the highest concentration of peaks and the longest glaciers outside the polar region. This is where the 3 largest mountain ranges in the world collide: Karakorams, Hindukush, and the Himalayas. The rivers that emanate from these rugged mountains, their tributaries, and melting glacial water create a rich source of habitability for some of the world’s rarest wildlife species: Astor, Pir Panjal markhor, Laddakh Urial, Himalayan Ibex, and Blue Sheep. .
Heavy poaching by locals and outsiders had led to an alarming decline in the population of these important species until foreign and local NGOs came to their rescue and initiated a program for the sustainable trophy hunting of these game species and their use. The importance of perpetuating the Markhor population at the community level and the direct involvement of local people through interest in conservation has led to successful results in achieving this goal. The social benefits derived from the generation of income from hunting.
Licensing fees have played a critical role in the success of conservation. Those
Communities that previously did not have the resources to carry out educational, health and social activities can now undertake these projects.
Hunting the “markhor” as it has been for many was one of my great wishes. I was able to fulfill this search and dream with the help of my friend Renaud Desgrees du Lou who met Anchan Ali Mirza from Karakroams – Pakistan and they were able to organize a successful search for me in Karakorams – Pakistan. Although I had the option to hunt any of the northern population of the markhor, I opted for the Astor as not many hunters I know of had ventured deep into the mighty Karakorams where this animal survived.
We flew to Islamabad where we were quickly checked in by customs and then embarked on a long journey along the “Karakoram Highway”. Driving on the Karakoram Highway is a journey in itself. It is a once in a lifetime adventure with breathtaking views of Nanga Parbat, the second highest peak in Pakistan (8125 meters). Today Silk is found in all markets of the world. Travel easily and economically by sea and air. It was not always like this. The early silk trade was carried out against all odds by large caravans of traders and animals traveling at a snail’s pace over some of the most inhospitable territory on the face of the earth: scorching, waterless deserts and covered mountain passes. of snow. It was through this “silk route” that ancient traders transported silk from Kasghar through the Taklamakan Desert and the Karakoram Highway to India.
Our first stop was the bustling town of Gilgit, we continued driving to the Bunji Valley. The people of Bunji were expecting a foreign hunter for the first time. It was the first year that their community was up and running and everyone was hoping and praying for a successful hunt as this would mean a considerable exchange of foreign exchange for their development plans. Our friend Anchan Ali Mirza, son of the land, advised me to pioneer the hunt for the Astor markhor in this wilderness. It was a new area and a test case for everyone. We crossed the mighty “Indus” river on a traditional local raft known as “Zakh”. This form of transport by rivers is used even today. Previously, “Zakh” floats were made of goatskin, but now a more modern form of inner tube is used. Although it is a safe way to cross, but a spooky experience.
It is a traditional belief that a good male has 19 times the wisdom of a human being and therefore we must show great strength, intelligence, courage and patience in the days to come. The hike through the rugged mountains of the Karakorams is challenging and demanding and only those souls with an adventurous spirit are likely to succeed. At certain points we use safety ropes to cross cliffs and waterfalls. Fortunately, we saw a good male from a distance the first on our arrival and I was able to shoot successfully. It wasn’t until the next morning that we were able to knock the animal down due to poor visibility. As it turned out, he was a mature male at about 34 inches, although we were expecting a larger trophy. After all the hours of continuous driving and arduous walking he could not have been a more satisfied man. Between all of us there was a great sense of pride and accomplishment.
We then drove to our next target, which was the Himalayan Ibex near Skardu town. Interestingly, when we got to this area, we were surprised to see some exceptionally sized trophies of Astor markhor. . Anchan Ali Mirza had already taken a Hungarian hunter there before and therefore it was not possible to hunt markhor again as the only license had been used. The Himalayan Ibex survive here in good numbers and we were successful in bagging a 40 “male. I have been told that if it went further into the deep valleys of the Karakorams there is a very strong population of Himalayan Ibex. But for now I thought these 2 trophies were enough. I was lucky enough to be able to hunt successfully on a trip that normally would have involved a few more days. I wish I had the pleasure of flying back from Skardu, but the weather conditions were not favorable. and therefore we hurried back to Islamabad.
IGNACIO RUIZ GALLARDON
Karakoram Treks & Tours, the oldest trekking company in Pakistan. Offers in trekking expedition to China, Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, Himalaya, Tirich Mir, Gasherbrum, Adventure, G2, Spantik, Trango Tower, Diran.
We also provide Hotel services in these regions.