We checked on the situation with Bob Kern, who confirmed that a problem with local perceptions of international hunting had caused a government official to close the hunt. "It was strictly a political decision," says Kern.
"The local Forestry Department is more practical about the resource and quite pro-hunting. They were very disappointed and apologetic for the sudden closure."
Kern expects the Chinese government will eventually reopen the season, as the government decision makers understand the economic benefits of international hunting. In the meantime, he says blue sheep hunting is still open elsewhere in China, and he continues operating in Xinjiang where hunters can also take Himalayan ibex for half of what it costs in neighboring Pakistan.
Currently the Forestry Department is implementing an education program to help Tibetans understand the value of conducting trophy hunts. The problem in Tibet is that, in spite of being part of Communist China, the people hold very traditional beliefs. Indeed, Baker describes seeing numbers of people walking about with prayer wheels, something he says he had not seen anywhere else in China. Tibetans are mostly Buddhists, who do not believe in the killing of animals. Also, they have been under a very strict anti-poaching program, and locals who were caught killing game were severely punished.........(continued)