Chinese authorities have issued two hunting permits to a group of seven American tourists headed to Qinghai province to stalk protected Bharal blue sheep and TIbetan Gazelles. According to the NewsCore wire service, the permits are the first issued by the Expert Committee of Wild Animal Hunting since a hunting ban was placed on foreigners five years ago.
Tibetan Gazelles are protected -- in theory at least -- by the Chinese government while Bharals are relatively common.
Chinese law prohibits hunting protected animals unless the hunters are part of an expedition or doing scientific research.
State News Agency Xinhua reports that the Qinghai Dulan Hunting Ground has already brought in about $3 million in tax revenue by catering to local hunters. That number is bound to go up as foreigners arrive.
According to the Tibetan Review, the hunts could offend local Buddhists who do not believe in recreational hunting.
Before the hunting ban on foreigners was instituted in 2006, specialized tour companies gave Americans an expensive Asian safari experience. According to the China Daily, it cost $7,900 to hunt a Bharal and $1,500 to hunt a Tibetan Gazelle.
After a short piece about the permits being issued was posted on Field and Stream's website, commenters expressed a lack of faith in the Chinese government to protect animal populations and little enthusiasm for a new hunting ground.