Trophy hunting in the Himalayas – covered by Buddha Yatra

A thrilling and extreme sport, trophy hunting is allowed in very few and selected regions around the world. This risky activity is however, a passionate past time for a number of people. And for those passionate hunters all over the world, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve is a dream destination to go trophy hunting. The Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve was established in 1987 AD. This reserve covers an area of 1325square kilometers and covers Rukum, Baglung and Myagdi districts of Nepal.

Bluesheep Hunting 2018

The region is a abitat to 32 species of mammals including bears, leopards, sheep and mountain goats. The reserve is also home to 164 species of birds including rare species such asthe Danfe, Munal and Chir. The name “Dhorpatan” is derived from the Nepali words, “dhor” meaning open space and “patan” meaning field. However, Dhorpatan does not only consist of open fields but also has rugged and mountainous terrain. Dhorpatan can be accessed with a day and half long trek from Muna village of Myagdi or direct jeep drive from Burtibang to Dhorpatan. This reserve lies in the part of the Guerilla Trek and used to be a war-torn area during the decade-long Maoist insurgency of Nepal. But today, this remote area is a peaceful getaway which is seldom visited by tourists. This reserve is located in the mountainous region to the west of Annapurna Conservation Area Project and is located at a height of 4000 meters above sea level.

Himalayan Tahr Hunting April 2018

While hunting and conservation do not seem to complement each other, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve has strict policies regarding its hunting access. The reserve allows hunting of only two animals, the Bharal (Himalayan Blue Sheep) and the Thar (Himalayan Tahr).The hunting is also controlled and surveyed carefully by the region’s rangers and Nepal Army officials who have set a base camp within the reserve. Recently despite the conservation efforts, the Thar has been labeled as a nearly threatened species by the International Union for Conversation of Nature (IUCN) due to its popularity as a trophy animal. In a survey conducted in 2016, it was reported that there were 380 Thars and 2200 Naurs spotted in the region. However, Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve moderates the number of animals that can be hunted each year.

Each year, a quota is set to decide the total number of the animals that can be hunted. Hunting is allowed in two seasons of the year, from Asoj to Kartik (September to October) and from Falgun to Baisakh (February to April). The rest of the year, the temperature in this region can get very low with extreme winds. Snowfall also occurs in the lower regions during winter while the upper regions are covered in snow throughout the year. Trophy hunting is strictly moderated and hunters are allowed to hunt in six blocks of Dhorpatan. Sundaha, Seng, Dogadi, Barse, Phaguney and Ghustung are the only regions where hunting is allowed. Nepal, like most countries with rich bio-diversity is keen on its nature conservation and protection. Thus, hunting outside the permitted areas and hunting animals other than the jharal and thar is illegal. Strict rules apply to the trophy hunters and things are not easy, especially for foreign tourists seeking to hunt in Nepal. International tourists can hunt in Dhorpatan only through half a dozen tour operators in Nepal and are allowed to stay 3 weeks in the region at a time. Foreign hunters also have a hard time importing guns into the country. There hunters are allowed to keep the horns and fur of the prize animals as trophies, while the meat is provided to the local communities for food.

The hunting of the animals is closely guarded and limitations apply in many ways. The hunters are not allowed to hunt the female of the animals and they only get to target the old animals in the herd. Along with that, if a target is shot but manages to get away, the hunters are required to hunt down the same animal and chasing fresh targets is not allowed either. Dhorpatan has become an ideal spot for trophy hunters as the hunters are usually escorted to the hunting grounds on helicopters. The choppers are permitted to land within the hunting blocks and hunters generally spend 3-4 days hiking through the scenic reserve in high altitude looking for their target. Tour operators make all the necessary arrangements for the accommodation of the trophy hunters in camps. Pashupati Adhikari, the reserve’s assistant conservation authoritarian, says that hunters are provided with a permit of 21 days in the reserve. Hunting guide and managing directors of Global Safaris Nepal, Shamsher Parajuli states that receiving the permit to hunting in the reserve requires a very lengthy process of going door to door of various ministries to get the documents.

According to Parajuli, who has been in the game hunting industry since 2009, the complications arise when the companies have to move around from one office to another. “Things would’ve been more convenient for us tour operators if all the required documents could be processed from a single office.” Located high in the Himalayan region and rich in flora and fauna, Dhorpatan, is an open secret. This region provides spectacular view of the Dhaulagiri peak and its open fields are no less than paradise in the mountains. While Dhorpatan is known as the only gaming reserve in Nepal, it is also a destination for trekkers, trail runners and nature lovers alike.