Wildlife officials in Pakistan fined a Qatari prince and seized two of his prized hunting falcons after he was discovered illegally hunting a rare bird species.

The confiscated falcons - which can be worth upwards of $250,000 each - were released into the wild this week, said Khan Malook, a district wildlife officer in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The prince, identified as Sheikh Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani, paid a fine of 80,000 rupees ($800) before leaving the country, Malook said.

The Qatari was discovered hunting houbara bustards, listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in the area in mid-January, he said.

Pakistan has come under fire from conservationists for granting permits for hunting bustards to wealthy Gulf Arabs, for whom falconry is a revered cultural tradition.

The sheikh, however, had no permit for hunting, Malook said.

Representatives of the Qatari royal family could not be reached for comment.

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