ISLAMABAD: Six endangered newborn Urials stolen from their mother have been recovered, officials said Thursday, in a case that has left a pair of local policemen accused of kidnapping them feeling rather sheepish.
The three male and three female lambs were illegally picked up from the Jhelum district of central Punjab, where around 2,500 are thought to roam in the wild.
The Punjab Urial, known for their curved horns which keep growing throughout their lives, are listed as "endangered" according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in Pakistan, and are mainly threatened by degradation of their habitats as well as poaching.
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It is forbidden in the country to hunt them, though sixteen permits are issued each year to foreigners, who must pay $16,500 for the privilege.
Rana Shahbaz, a senior local wildlife official, told AFP the lambs had been taken from the Salt Range by two local policemen who are believed to have been hired by a well-to-do client -- described as a judge by local daily Dawn.
"The lambs are very sensitive, and when they are taken from their mothers they often die," he said.
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"But when we recovered them we kept them at our check post, they were fed properly and later they were produced before a court, which ordered them to be sent to the Lahore Zoo."
They were later pictured frolicking at the zoo.
Mujahid Akbar Khan, the local police chief, confirmed the case adding that the two policemen had been suspended. "An investigation is underway," he added.
Pakistan is home to stunning range of wildlife including snow leopards, shaheen falcons and Indus dolphins.
But an exploding population currently around 200 million, and a lack of awareness around conservation has led to the destruction of habitats and forests and endangerment of numerous species.
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