H&CAT and the small enterprises and NGOs managing the community-based conservancies care about the sustainability of the hunting and the satisfaction of the sport hunters at the same time. Sport hunting should not just be about trophies, but about a great hunting experience, fair chase, spending time in the ecosystem of the game animals, interacting with traditional hunters and local communities and about supporting the conservation of wildlife and the wellbeing of the local people.
Large trophies can be an indication that wild sheep and goats reach an old age and have good habitat conditions. Being able to present hunters a good number of old-aged rams means also that poaching is under control and animals do not die young from a poachers bullet. Large trophies, furthermore, can indicate that quotas are set low enough that old age classes are not extirpated by sport hunters or that intensive trophy hunting has not already caused a selective pressure against animals with large trophies and has not led to a genetic change in the population.
The latter risk is often denied by hunters, but evidence, e.g. from intensively hunted bighorn sheep populations in Canada, shows that this risk is real. It is just logical – if ibex, markhor, argali or urial with large horns die earlier than those with small horns, they will have less chances to transfer their genes to the next generation.
For this reason and under consideration of natural losses, the standard formula for quota setting and sustainable harvest in the conservancies is taking up to one out of 100 mountain ungulates recorded in the conservancy area (or section of it) and one out of five males of 8 years and older, whatever number is less.
The record markhor trophies taken in the conservancy of M-Sayod, and partly recorded in the SCI record book, indicate that there survival of markhor male until old age is common. The selective pressure by the local snow leopard population may cause the early death of some markhor but at the same time keeps the population healthy.
However, the largest trophy is not necessarily the best from a conservation perspective. Sometimes the oldest animals already have worn or even broken horn tips and may thus have slightly shorter horns and may get a lower score in record books than another individual, which is still in its prime age. H&CAT offers conservation hunting and will thus encourage hunters to prefer always the oldest animals, which already have had a chance to contribute to the genepool for several years, and to refrain from shooting a healthy prime-age male with high reproductive potential.
Sport hunting in Central Asia and beyond has got negative publicity because of reported cases of staged hunts, providing animals to clients, which had been shot in advance, fabricated trophies, allowing for shooting another animal after the first taken was considered “not satisfying”, unethical hunting practices and even illegal trophy hunts. H&CAT strongly condemns such practices and will not support any hunters wishing for such services. H&CAT will strictly sanction also all attempts by local rangers to offer such practices to clients and asks all hunters to inform about any observations of irregularities and unethical behavior by hunting guides in the conservancies!