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Pakistan Supreme Court Overturns Ban on Hunting Rare Bird

Hunting of the houbara bustard, a desert bird whose meat is prized among Arab sheikhs as an aphrodisiac, is allowed to continue.

Pakistan's Supreme Court Friday overturned its decision to ban the hunting of the houbara bustard, a rare desert bird whose meat is prized among Arab sheikhs as an aphrodisiac.

Wealthy hunting parties from the Gulf travel to Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan province every winter to kill the houbara bustard using hunting falcons.

This Happened Here Photos: Mongolian Eagles Hunt

The issue has also cast a spotlight on traditionally close ties between Pakistan and its allies in the Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia.

A provincial High Court in Balochistan in November 2014 cancelled all permits for hunting in the province, but the federal government headed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif - a close ally of Saudi Arabia - continued to issue licenses.

Last year the Supreme Court banned hunting of the bird entirely, in a decision welcomed by wildlife campaigners.

Hunter Or Hunted? Animal Eyes Reveal All: Photos

The International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the bird on its "red list" of threatened species, estimating there are fewer than 97,000 left globally.

But the federal and provincial governments asked the court to review the decision, claiming that controlled hunting was a tool for preservation and should be allowed.

In a judgement issued Friday, the court said it had set aside its original decision to ban hunting of the bird and that petitions on the issue would be listed for fresh hearings.

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Sharif, along with powerful military chief General Raheel Sharif, visited Riyadh earlier this week in what his office said was an effort to ease tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Pakistan has deep military connections with Saudi Arabia and it has long benefited from the oil-rich kingdom's largesse.

The prime minister has close personal ties with the Saudi royal family, who sheltered him during years in exile.

A small tribe in the Mongolian Altai Mountains hunts with a rather unusual tool... golden eagles. In the newest edition of

Seeker Network's

"This Happened Here,"

two Kasakh members have taken the blindfold off their Golden Eagle so he may hunt for food for their people.

The largest bird of prey in North America, the golden eagle, is a magnificent predator. Here, two Kasakh hunters climb a mountain with their horses and eagle.

The territory of golden eagles also reaches much of Asia, northern Africa, and Europe. This a Kasakh eagle hunter dressed warmly alongside a blindfolded golden eagle.

The photographer, David Baxindale, captures a small body of water with the Altai Mountains of Mongolia in the background.

Golden eagles are the largest of eagles and can have a wingspan up to 7.5 feet. They've been known to dive upon their prey at 150 miles an hour, which makes them powerful allies in the hunt. Here, an eagle hunter poses with a golden eagle on his arm.