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The houbara bustard: a thematic analysis of a bird's threatened extinction and a government's accountability failure

Ralph Adler (University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Mansi Mansi (School of Accounting Economics Finance, College of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)
Rakesh Pandey (School of Accounting Economics Finance, College of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 12 November 2020

Issue publication date: 7 June 2021

629

Abstract

Purpose

This paper provides a thematic analysis of an IUCN Red-Listed bird, the houbara bustard, which Pakistan uses as a fungible resource to appease its wealthy Arab benefactors.

Design/methodology/approach

Thematic analysis of relevant media reports and government ministry and NGO websites comprise the study's data. Media reports were located using Dow Jones' Factiva database.

Findings

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues wealthy Arabs special permits for hunting the houbara bustard as a “soft” foreign diplomacy strategy aimed at propping up the country's fragile economy. Although illegal under international and Pakistan's own wildlife laws, resource dependence theory helps explain how various country-specific issues (e.g. dysfunctional political and judicial systems) enable Pakistan's unlawful exchange of hunting permits for Arab oil and short-term financing. Surrogate accountability and agencement are examined as two means for arresting the bird's trajectory toward extinction.

Research limitations/implications

Media reports comprise the primary data. Pakistani government officials were approached for interviews, but failed to reply. Although unfortunate, the pervasive corruption and mistrust that characterise Pakistan's culture would have likely tainted the responses. For this reason, media reports were always the primary data sought.

Originality/value

The present study extends prior literature by exploring how country context can subvert the transferability of social and political approaches used in developed countries to address environmental accounting issues and challenges. As this study shows, a developing country's economic vulnerability, combined with its dysfunctional political systems, impotent judiciary and feckless regulatory mechanisms, can undermine legislation meant to protect the country's natural environment, in general, and a threatened bird's existence, in particular.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the constructive and helpful comments provided by the anonymous reviewers and the special editors of this journal issue.

Citation

Adler, R., Mansi, M. and Pandey, R. (2021), "The houbara bustard: a thematic analysis of a bird's threatened extinction and a government's accountability failure", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 1190-1219. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-07-2019-4113

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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