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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Fake photo of the US Consul General Hunting Markhor making rounds on internet

False claims have been made on Facebook and Twitter claiming the American Consul General in Lahore hunted the Markhor in Pakistan’s north and then tweeted a photo of the animal.

A social media post from December 23 purportedly showed William Makaneole, the American consul general in Lahore, sitting with a dead Markhor, Pakistan’s national animal, and has since been seen around 400 times as of this writing. “American ambassador’s open message to Pakistanis. We have Markhor in our possession,” said the tweet’s caption.

Another user tweeted the identical image along with a message that was quite similar: “The American ambassador is proving that the Markhor is in their hands.”

The US Consul General was purportedly depicted in the faked image. Dr. Zakir Hussain, the department’s chief conservator for the environment, wildlife, and forest division of the Gilgit-Baltistan government, declared that “the image is manipulated.” According to the information I have obtained through my field crew, this hunt took place in Chitral a few years ago. Four licenses for Markhor hunting are issued annually by the forest, wildlife, and environment department of the Gilgit-Baltistan government. According to Dr. Hussain, only one foreign hunter has received permission this year. He reiterated that it was not the American diplomat and said to Geo Fact Check, “That foreign hunter is already on the prowl.”

Separately, a police officer in Chitral, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, confirmed to Geo Fact Check that the original photo (shown below), which depicted a hunter from the US but not the US consul general, was taken there on December 10, 2016. Geo Fact Check also verified the image using InVID, a platform for video and image verification. Additionally, it was discovered that the face in the picture had been changed to make it appear as though the US consul general had shot the animal.

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