Markhor Photo

Photo by Geographic, via Creative Commons

SPECIES- Markhor (Capra falconeri)

CURRENT RANGE- From Afghanistan and Pakistan to North India

CURRENT THREAT- Trophy Hunters and Habitat Loss

CURRENT STATUS- Endangered

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM- Los Angeles Zoo, Rosamond Gifford Zoo (Syracuse, NY), India’sTatakuti Wildlife Sanctuary

What Is It?

A large wild goat found from Afghanistan to northern India, the markhor is divided into three subspecies: the Astor markhor, the Bukharan markhor and the Kabul markhor. The majestic mammal, the national animal of Pakistan, is one of the more sexually dimorphic animals in the wild. Males get well over 200 pounds, have an exaggerated amount of hair extending from their chin/chest and, most notably, have spectacular spiraling horns atop their heads. Females’ horns are less dramatic, throats less hairy and bodies a lot less stout. However, both sexes graze on grass and live in mountain elevations as high as 3,000 meters.

Markhor

Photo by F. Spangenberg, via Creative Commons

 

Why Are They Endangered?

Because of the males’ unique physical appearance, it has long been a sought-after target of humans. Trophy hunters want the circling horns for display. Locals want the meat for food. Some Chinese groups even seek out the animal for its medicinal purposes. With man’s steady encroachment, the endangered markhor is also in a fight over land with domestic livestock. According to the IUCN, the world’s population of markhor is down to around 2,500 adults. In the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir the number uncomfortably sits near 400.

 

What’s Being Done to Save Them?

To counter the sad statistics in Jammu and Kashmir, five parks (including the new Tatakuti Wildlife Sanctuary) have set up sanctuaries for the markhor. Unfortunately, other countries have been slower to respond to the animal’s plight. Even though the gorgeous wild goat serves as Pakistan’s national animal, it’s still legally being hunted in the country. Wildlife conservation organizations like Save Our Species are becoming more vocal on the local village level about the importance of keeping the species alive in Pakistan, one of the animal’s essential natural habitats. DeMarco Williams

 

If you enjoyed reading our Endangered Species Spotlight on the Markhor, you might also like: 

ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Dhole (Indian Wild Dog)

ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Sumatran Elephant

ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Saola (Asian Unicorn)

4 Responses to ENDANGERED SPECIES SPOTLIGHT: Markhor

  • Born27 says:

    Some Chinese groups even seek out the animal for its medicinal purposes. Thanks that you’ve shared.

    • Unfortunately, many practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine seem to believe that EVERY endangered species offers some sort of medicinal value, which is part of why so many species are being poached to extinction. Wild Aid and basketball legend Yao Ming have a new ad campaign designed to slow the trafficking of animal parts into China, and we can only hope they raise awareness and animal rights activism in China.

  • Those horns are awesome! I’ve never heard of this animal but it sounds fascinating.

    • Yeah, unfortunately I think the horns make them a big attraction for hunters, who think they’d look cooler mounted on a wall than they do on the animal. I believe that’s what you call a Catch 22…

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