Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pakistan's national goat makes a comeback

Caroline Morley, online picture researcher


(Image: Grahm Jones)

Northern Pakistan is often in the headlines, but the news is rarely good. Here's an exception: Pakistan's national animal, the markhor, has made a comeback.

Markhors (Capra falconeri) are large wild goats with corkscrew horns that can reach up to 160 centimetres on males. They live in the mountains of Pakistan and its neighbours, and were initially listed as endangered by the IUCN in 1984. This status was reconfirmed in 2008, when the organisation reported that the total population was less than 2500 individuals and declining by 20 per cent every two generations.

In an effort to protect the small remaining markhor population in the northern Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, a local programme has trained wildlife rangers and set up 53 community conservation committees in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society.

In 1999, the Pakistani government estimated there were 1000 markhors left in Gilgit-Baltistan. This year the community-led survey reported nearly 300 individuals, which, according to the WCS, means there are now around 1500 of the iconic goats in this region - a good climb even for this agile animal.


Left: ranger surveying markhor habitat. Right: community conservation meeting. (Images: Mayoor Khan/WCS)

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