Marquel, TPVs NYTimes Birds of Pray Section correspondent, was hunting game in the NYC subway system when he read about a bird of contention which made him still and stiff. The middle eastern bustard is a threatened species and Marquel read the story with anger. It turns out that Saudis think the bird, found largely in Pakistan, is an aphrodisiac.
But it is a protected species. Hunting permits are issued by Pakistan, severely limited in number and thus bought by, as you would think, the Saudi royal family.
The article describes how the Saudis do this. First they travel to the Pakistani desert and build their own airstrip. Then they fly in Jeeps, tents, color tv’s, and dancing girls–although not always. At some point the Saudi king and princes arrive.
Now Marquel was thinking, well okay, hunting is an old activity, and even if the prey is nearly extinct, there is something to be said for shooting your own aphrodisiac and consuming it on the spot. That’s why the dancing girls?
But it turns out the king and his either illegitimate or degenerate, or both, offspring, don’t fire a shot. The last jet in carries falcons. They do the work. The Saudis pose for pictures The last picture showed the king with 2,100 dead bustards. A look at the hunting license said 100 bustards. What’s two thousand additional threatened extinctions? Think of the benefits. A 94 year old potent potentate.
Marquel found this hard to take. He didn’t believe a 94 year old man, king or not, could be helped with what ails him by a dead bustard. Or several thousand bustards. Nor did Marquel believe that a 94 year old man, king or not, would want to have what ails him, cured. There’s a time and place for everything. And 94 is not the time. Marquel gave a call to the Pakistani office for protection of threatened species. They talked.
“Are you in favor of this?” Asked Marquel.
“Certainly.” Said Abdul, the head of office.
“But we need the money.” Said Abdul.
“Every time they have a hunt, they give us 1.5 billion dollars.” He said.
“They believe it helps them…do…what they can’t…do.”
“Most people just buy Viagra on the internet.” He explained.
“I wouldn’t dream of it. Plus I don’t think Viagra would help. He was 94 years old. Nothing can help him. What he can’t…do, he’s just too old to do.” Abdul said.
“Oh indeed. It’s just not going to happen at that age ” he said.
“He hesitated. “Hmm…chicken, I guess.”
“Well not really waste. I think they’re relieved, but they know that…what doesn’t happen…isn’t going to…happen. He was over 90!” Abdul exclaimed.
“This year they brought in dancing camels.” He added.
“No but I’m afraid for the camels.” He said.
“Yes but camels like it. That’s why Arabs bring them in the desert. And dancing camels…Who knows?” Abdul asked.
“I think so. It was a very proper burial. He was buried erect, as the Koran commands, and I think the new government will continue its practices.” Abdul averred.
“All Arabs are buried erect.” He explained.
“Well, no, I don’t think they would have thought of burying him, standing up or lying down, while he was alive. It’s just an Arab tradition that you bury someone vertically, erect, and not lying down ” He explained.
“No he was too old. And dead. You can’t do it then. It’s not going to happen.”
Abdul looked troubled. “No I think the camels may have been disappointed.”
“No, not the bustards,” Abdul said smiling.***