Two policemen in the Jhelum District of Pakistan are in trouble after getting caught with a cruiser full of newborn Punjab urial lambs, Dawn News reports.

Urials are wild, big-horned sheep that live all over central Asia. The Punjab urial is a subspecies endemic to Pakistan, where about 2,500 of them roam the Salt and Kala Chitta mountain ranges. It is illegal to hunt urial in Pakistan unless you have one of sixteen permits, which are sold annually to wildlife tourists for $16,500.

According to Dawn, there is a substantial black market trade in lambs from the Salt Mountains, which sell for $150 to $225 each. Local poachers often catch and sell them during the April breeding season, when they’re very young and easy to nab.

An adult Urial in a Swedish zoo.

An adult Urial in a Swedish zoo. (Photo: jonsson/CC BY 2.0)

In this case, Dawn reports, a judge asked the two policemen for a lamb, and they managed to drum up a half dozen, which they then packed into their cruiser. After a tip-off, wildlife department officials stopped the policemen and found the lambs. 

The sheepnappers have since been suspended, and face legal action. Meanwhile, the rescued lambs were sent to the Lahore Zoo, where they were later seen “frolicking,” reports AFP.

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