By Captain Dave Funk
Clash Daily Contributer
In Africa, the saying “If It Pays It Stays” is heard almost every day; that saying refers to those wild animals that can generate more income than cattle or goats to the local tribes people though sustainable hunting. While hunting in Namibia in 2007, I learned from the locals that Cheetah are considered vermin, because they eat the plains game (and domestic animals) that can be sold, but the United Nations and the United States, through their infinite wisdom, have decided that Cheetah cannot be sport hunted and exported to most countries. Subsequently, nearly every Cheetah is shot on site.
Pakistan, unbeknownst to most Westerners, has a rich hunting culture, with some of the greatest mountain hunting in the world. The Snow Leopard, despite its relatively healthy numbers, is not currently hunted at all anywhere in the world. I recently asked a friend and Professional Hunter from Pakistan who took the photo above: “Are Snow Leopard numbers increasing as a result of continuing improvement in game management practices in Pakistan?”
His response was like a punch in the chest: “Actually the numbers are decreasing because the local people of the Himalayas have only two sources of income. First, is the money they receive from trophy hunting; and second is goat herding. The snow leopard is an enemy for both as far as they are concerned and it has zero value. So they poison these magnificent cats. Quite sad.”
Followed up by this statement when asked if a small quota of Snow Leopard hunting was allowed; this was his response: “We have a very healthy population of leopards. And a limited hunting quota would put a value on these animals and as a result the locals would not poison them. A leopard by nature is a secretive animal and the greenies think that just because they don’t see them openly in the side of a mountain like an ibex they must be ‘extremely’ rare. I personally know one village where this year alone the leopard had killed nineteen goats from one tiny village. The government is not compensating these people for their loss and the people from here will kill this leopard very soon by putting poison in a dead goat. This won’t just kill one leopard but any that happens to be passing by.”
From 41,000 feet in the air, it’s obvious to me, foreign governments and the United Nations don’t know best; it’s time to let the locals in Pakistan best manage their resources, including the magnificent Snow Leopard.
Captain Dave Funk: Constitutionalist, hunter, dad and patriot, Dave has retired as both a US Army attack helicopter pilot and a Boeing 757 International Captain for Northwest Airlines; Dave has spent most of the last few years piloting US Department of Defense special mission aircraft in the “Sandbox”. With a unique perspective on the world that comes from thousands of hours at 41,000 feet, his ability to explain complex aviation question in simple terms has earned him guest commentator spots on most major TV and radio networks.