The demise of the Asian houbara bustard in Pakistan

Eleni Panagiotarakou in the Jerusalem Post:

HB 4 Fuert 11 Feb 10_990This past April, Dawn, the oldest and most widely- read English-language newspaper in Pakistan, covered a report entitled “Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of houbara bustard.” The report was written by Jaffar Baloch, a divisional forest officer of the Balochistan forest in Pakistan, and it detailed the hunting activities of Prince Fahd of the House of Al Saud and his hunting party. This included the number, date and place of endangered Asian bustards killed. The staggering tally was 2,100 birds. The fact that these birds were killed for their purported aphrodisiac qualities grabbed the attention of the international media.

The moral obscenity of this act touched me deeply, as did the trophy photograph; hundreds of dead birds, their lifeless bodies laid out in geometrical rows across the soft desert sand, with their wings spread out. In a moment of ethical compulsion I began a petition at, the world’s largest petition platform. The petition’s title reads: “Donate lifetime supply of Viagra to the Saudi Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud” and it is addressed to Ian C. Read, the president of the pharmaceutical corporation and manufacturer of Viagra Pfizer.

The petition’s goal is for 2,100 signatures – the number of bustards killed. Within minutes the petition began attracting media attention and hundreds of signatures from around the world. In the comments section the majority of the responses were split evenly between animal rights advocates, conservation enthusiasts and Pakistanis angered at their government’s lack of national sovereignty. The remainder of the responses were an eclectic mix ranging in scope from a Saudi woman chiding Prince Fahd for his intemperance and calling him a disgrace to the Royal House of Al Saud, to a Pakistani woman castigating all Saudi sheiks for treating Pakistan as their playground.

More here.