In an uncommon display of institutional efficiency, the District Wildlife department arrested five hunters for shooting urials in the forests of Pind Dadan Khan, Jhelum. They were fined Rs0.5 million and were released after the fine had been paid.

Earlier this month, the department had captured illegal hunters and recovered at least seven urials in two different raids in the Salt Range area.

The Punjab urial is an endemic sub-species to Pakistan and is protected under all provincial laws after it had become a rapidly dwindling species in the late 1980s. It is known to have a restricted distribution range and is found only in the Salt and Kala Chitta Mountain ranges. The construction of the M-2 Motorway between Islamabad and Lahore created a substantial barrier to seasonal migrations and to dispersal. While the main threat to these endangered animals is illegal trophy-hunting, other more overlooked factors that threaten the urial population are habitat degradation, encroachments on protected forests, stealing of lambs and conflicts with the livestock because of competition for grazing.

Due to a more concerted effort by the wildlife department of Punjab as well as international conservation NGOs, the hunting of urials is now more regulated and population has steadily increased. There has to be a social and national recognition that the fauna of Pakistan is worthy of protection. The culture of game and hunting needs to be reformed. Game reserve schemes that grant a strict number of licenses to hunt aged urials have helped improve their numbers. However, poaching of newborn lambs to be kept as pets appears to be the greatest short-term threat to the Punjab urial, recently exacerbated by the granting of licences to legally possess pet urial. Increasing law enforcement capabilities and incorporating community participation in the management of urials remains key.