SALMAN Khan has been convicted of poaching rare deer in a wildlife preserve two decades ago and sentenced to five years in prison.

The Bollywood star contends he did not shoot the two blackbuck deer in the western India preserve in 1998 and was acquitted in related cases.

He was in court for the ruling in the western city of Jodhpur.

Khan is expected to be taken to a local prison while it could take days for his lawyers to appeal the conviction and seek bail.

Four other stars also accused in the case – Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam – were acquitted by Chief Judicial Magistrate Dev Kumar Khatri.

They were in the jeep that Salman Khan was believed to be driving during the hunt.

Khan had been sentenced to prison terms of between one and five years in related cases before being acquitted by appeals courts for lack of evidence.

The blackbuck is an endangered species protected under the Indian Wildlife Act. A member of the Bishnoi religious sect, which reveres the animal, was a key witness in the case.