Amongst other things that make us Pakistanis proud of our heritage and identity, our national animal Markhor is one.
This large goat-type animal is found in the mountainous regions of Himalayas especially in the Western woodlands of Afghanistan, Gilgit Baltistan, and Kashmir.
Here we have compiled some amazing facts and photographs of this wondrous animal.
Credits: Unknown (please connect if this is your photograph)
Markhor- The Name
The colloquial name is thought by some to be derived from the Persian word Mar(مار) meaning snake and khor(خور) meaning “eater”, which is sometimes interpreted to either represent the species’ ability to kill snakes, or as a reference to its corkscrewing horns, which are somewhat reminiscent of coiling snakes. ref
Markhor is 65 to 115 centimeters tall at the shoulder. They usually weigh from 40 to 110 kilograms. Females are a tan color with a white underbelly and a pattern of black and white on the legs. Males are a lighter tan color with the same white underbelly and pattern on the legs. Males also have a black face and lots of long white fur on their neck and chest which can grow down to their knees. Both males and females have corkscrew-shaped horns which can grow up to 160 cm / 64 inches long in males, and up to 25 cm / 10 inches in females.
Credits: Jacqueline Wallace
The species is classed by the IUCN as Endangered, as there are fewer than 2,500 mature individuals and the numbers have continued to decline by an estimated 20% over two generations. The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared it as an endangered animal in 1998. However, it was downlisted to the category of ‘near-threatened’ in 2015 as there are official claims that the number of animals has increased due to trophy hunting.
The hunting of National Animal is prohibited in Pakistan, therefore foreign visitors can get the hunting license for Capra-Falconeri (مار خور) against 56 thousand Dollars/head from PTDC, Pakistan. Hunters pay large sums of money for the game in the region, while the locals use this money to fund developments in the area, in turn securing the population of Markhors as well.
According to the data collected by K-P Wildlife department in 1993, the population of Markhor was merely 275 animals throughout the province. However, that number is currently over 3,500. Ref: Express Tribune
The Markhor is a herbivorous animal that primarily grazes on a variety of vegetation including grasses, leaves, herbs, fruits, and flowers. Like other wild goats, the markhor plays a valuable role within their eco-system as they munch the leaves from the low-lying trees and scrub, spreading the seeds in their dung. ref
As Markhor is the National Animal of Pakistan, it is our collective responsibility to help in their preservation. Markhors mainly feed on vegetation therefore whenever we visit areas which host Markhors like Kashmir and Gilgit=Baltistan, we must make sure to not litter on the ground. Plastic bottles, shopping bags and other forms of throw-away items harm the environment which indirectly harms Markhors.
Furthermore, we must support Government of Pakistan’s efforts to preserve future generations of Markhors.
You may be interested in our viral compilation of Ten Amazing Wild Animals Found in Pakistan