The Social Media Advertisement of Trophy Hunting Animals

The Social Media Advertisement of Trophy Hunting Animals and the Local Cosmology of GBC…

Trophy hunting is a new phenomenon in the northern areas of Pakistan which comes from the neoliberal way of monetizing the life of trophy animals, like Markhor. There are said benefits of trophy hunting for local communities but this needs to be further researched as the case has not been true in many places of the world. What is more disturbing in this situation is the sharing of hunted mountain animals on social media. The locals see these mountain animals as the “daughters of the fairies” and have a very different relationship with them that is full of respect and humility.

Hunting was done solely for sustenance and food. Mostly, there would be a leader who would be asked permission to go hunting so that it is not overdone. A hunter will wake up early in the morning, say a prayer, Quran will be presented in front of him as he sets out for hunting so that he is safe. He will enter the mountains, burn scented flour on a rock asking the permission of Shavanan or Nangini (fairies) to enter their area and ask for their help in finding rizq (food that is bestowed by God). The hunters will go multiple times to see which animal is best for hunting, as the animal should not be too young or recently mothered. People would hunt only one at a time- what is enough for them. After hunting the animal, the hunter will wait for it to get dark so that he can go back with some parts of the hunted animal and so that nobody sees him. The hunter will make another round with someone in the family to carry the rest of the body on their back during the night.

All the family members will pray for the safe return of the hunter and hide from everyone else that a person has gone hunting. When the hunted animal is brought home, there is a unique welcome. The body will be passed through the chimney hole instead of brining it through the door. This is is to show that this rizq is sacred and the head of the family will take the body and put it on bitholu (a wooden structure for making roti). Everyone says a prayer of thanks. Everytime the meat is served, everyone will wash their hands before and after the meal and the meat will be shared with rest of the community and close friends. This is a short summary of how we locals relate to the animals of hunt. With this in view, sharing pictures of markhors that have been hunted for money is very demeaning to the animals and to the local cosmology.

One can argue that things are changing anyway and it is not a big deal, but it is. This is how our relationship with more-than-human changes. That is when we exploit what was so sacred to us. This is when we objectify things that were part of us and above us. I request all the concerned authorities to take this into consideration because it is sad and hurtful for us to see sacred beings thrown around social media either wounded or dead. Listen to this poetic expression sung by Mansoor Ali Shabab, called Ghoru, of creating empathy among people for hunted animals.

The English subtitles are available:

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