Sudanese conservationists have accused trophy hunters of exploiting the country’s political transition to hunt down the country’s unprotected rare animals.
Photographs posted online of Westerners posing with the body of a rare Nubian ibex angered Sudanese wildlife activists this week. They asked Facebook to remove the pages of tourist groups promoting such hunts.
While wildlife hunters have long come from the Gulf, Abubakr Mohammad, a biodiversity researcher, has seen a recent trend of Western trophy hunters coming as well, which he said could be a result of the country being more open to outsiders since the removal of Omar al-Bashir, the former president. Hunting permits are issued without sufficient scrutiny, activists say.
The Nubian ibex is considered extremely rare in Sudan and its population is classified as vulnerable and in decline, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
“Before this, they couldn’t do it because of the government’s approach to European visitors, especially to these areas, they were considered spies.
“With this new government, everyone is coming to Sudan,” said Mohammad, who He runs a popular Facebook page on biodiversity in Sudan. “Everyone is taking advantage …”
Hunt Geo, which is based in Austria and promotes hunting trips around the world, released a YouTube video in December what he said was the first hunt in Sudan in 10 years, since the secession of South Sudan. Hunt Geo posted photos online of his clients posing with the Nubian ibex.
The photos were also shared by Kush Armaments, a Sudanese company that caught Mohammad’s attention because he noticed that he shared his posts about wildlife locations in Sudan. He was afraid he was hunting in those areas then.
Responding to anger in Sudan, Kush Armaments has removed posts from the hunts, but they remain on Hunt Geo Facebook Page. Neither Hunt Geo nor Kush Armaments responded to requests for comment.
Mohamed al-Tayeb, a Sudanese singer and wildlife activist, said Sudanese law should be changed to ban such hunts, but there is still a problem that companies are backed by powerful figures in the country.
“I think it is really difficult to change this: they are the power in Sudan, they are the people who have money and weapons. Maybe they will close a company if there is pressure from the media about it, but this will not end as long as Sudan is ruled by militias, ”Tayeb said.
Mohammad said the permits were issued without paying enough attention to which animals were hunted and whether the rules were followed. He called for all hunting to be stopped, especially since there is no clear idea how many Nubian ibex are left in Sudan.
The IUCN said last year that the number of Nubian ibex in Sudan and neighboring Eritrea was unknown. Mohammad said Sudan needed to update its laws to protect wildlife and write a requirement for a conservation body into the constitution.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism