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Fact-check: Fabricated image of US consul general hunting markhor goes viral

By News Desk
December 30, 2022

KARACHI: Social media posts falsely claim that the United States Consul General in Lahore hunted the markhor in the northern areas of Pakistan, and later posted a picture with the animal.

Claim

On December 23, a post was shared on social media, which has been viewed nearly 400 times at the time of writing, allegedly showing William Makaneole, the American Consul General in Lahore, sitting with a dead markhor, the national animal of Pakistan. The caption of the tweet read: “American ambassador’s open message to Pakistanis. markhor is in our possession.” The same picture was tweeted by another account with a similar text: “The American ambassador is proving that the markhor is in their hands.”

Fact

The image had been forged to show the US Consul General. “The image is photoshopped,” Dr Zakir Hussain, the chief conservator at the forest, wildlife and environment department of the government of Gilgit-Baltistan, said. “This hunt was in Chitral a few years back, from the information I have gathered through my field staff.” Every year, the forest, wildlife and environment department of the government of Gilgit-Baltistan issues four licenses for hunting the markhor.

This year, only one foreign hunter has been issued a permit, said Dr Hussain. “That foreign hunter is already on the hunt,” he told Geo Fact Check, again adding that it was not the American diplomat. Separately, an officer in Chitral, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, also confirmed to Geo Fact Check that the original image (seen below) was taken in December 10, 2016, in Chitral and it showed a hunter from the United States, who was not the US consul general.

Geo Fact Check further used InVID, a video and image verification platform, to check the picture. It also found that the face in the image had been altered to make it look like the US consul general had hunted the animal. Facebook and Twitter posts falsely claim that the United States Consul General in Lahore hunted the markhor in the northern areas of Pakistan, and later posted a picture with the animal.