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Man jailed for illegal markhor hunting in Gilgit
GILGIT: A man was sentenced to two years in prison and fined Rs61.5 million for illegally hunting an Astore markhor, a rare and protected species of wild goat, in Gilgit.
Akbar Hussain, a resident of Sakwar locality, was caught red-handed with the markhor meat and weapon by the wildlife authorities on Sunday night in Jutial Nala.
He confessed to his crime in the court of Wildlife Magistrate Muhammad Isa on Monday and was ordered to pay the fine, which is equivalent to the value of the markhor, plus a penalty of Rs10,000. If he fails to pay the fine, he will face another two years of imprisonment, the court said.
The markhor is a protected species under local and international laws, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is subject to regulated hunting under specific conditions.
The Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Forest, Parks, and Wildlife Department annually holds controlled trophy hunting programmes for rare species, including the Astore markhor, the blue sheep, and the Himalayan ibex.
For the 2023-24 season, the department auctioned four licences for hunting the Astore markhor, with one licence fetching a record $186,000. The auction included permits for 104 rare species across various community conservation areas in G-B.
The first trophy hunting of the Astore markhor for the 2023-24 season was recorded on December 2, when a Belgian hunter bagged a 40-inch trophy at a community hunting area in Astore district for $177,000, approximately Rs54 million.
The trophy hunting programme, initiated in the 1980s, operates under CITES and is restricted to notified areas in G-B.
It is conducted in collaboration with local communities, who receive 80% of the hunting fee, while the government uses the remaining 20% for forest preservation and biodiversity conservation.