Markhor-Why it’s National Animal of Pakistan?

Markhor is known as National Animal of Pakistan. Screw horn or “screw-horned goat”  are the other names known for this animal in Pakistan. The Markhor word is derived from Persian, where Mar shows the meaning of snake and Khor shows the importance of easter. As  Markhor are capable of killing snakes, and their horns look like the coiling snake. This species is home-grown in Asia, the Himalayas, and the Karakoram. Aegoceros (Capra) Falconeri is a scientifically known name proposed in 1839 by Johann Andreas Wagner.

Subspecies of National Animal of Pakistan

  • Astor or Astore markhor 
  • Kabul Markhor
  • Kashmir Markhor
  • BukharanMarkhor
  • Suleiman Markhor

Why It’s taken as a National Animal of Pakistan?

The national animal of Pakistan is the Markhor (Capra falconeri), a wild goat native to the mountainous regions of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and parts of India. The Markhor symbolizes culture and folklore in Pakistan due to its majestic beauty and significance.

Markhor has been designated Pakistan’s national animal since 2015 by the government to promote conservation efforts. The Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan) has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), primarily due to habitat loss, poaching, and overhunting. By designating the Markhor as the national animal, Pakistan hopes to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the species and its habitat.

The Markhor holds cultural significance in Pakistan. It symbolizes strength, courage, and resilience and is often featured in traditional folk tales and artwork. The animal’s majestic horns are also highly valued in local culture and sometimes used to symbolize wealth and status.


Reason To Choose Official Symbol By ISI

Bravery, as the purpose of ISI, is to save the people of Pakistan from the danger of terrorism. There are two main reasons to choose this animal ISI.

  • Markhor animal is considered a National Animal of Pakistan.
  • Markhor animals are associated with bravery since they live at the peak of mountains and are considered brave. They could kill the hazardous species of very poisonous snakes and those teasing humans. So Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan) became the source of protection for human beings. The duty of ISI is compared with the markhors as ISI also protects the people from dangerous people. That’s why Markhor is considered an official symbol of ISI.

In 2018 Markhor was used as a logo on the tail of every airplane by  Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)

Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan) resides in the upper area of the mountains, almost 550-3,700 meters high. Markhor usually likes to live in forests of oaks, pine trees, and juniper trees, as in these areas, Markhor finds a lot of food.

The Markhor can be found in different parts of Pakistan, including Northern areas, such as Chitral, Kashmir, Quetta, Gilgit Baltistan, and other valleys, such as Neelam Valley, Hunza Valley, and Kalash Valley. Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan) is a herbivore because it grazes much vegetation, such as grasses, leaves, flowers, and fruits. This animal plays a valuable role in spreading seeds, the same as other goats. They benefit the ecosystem by chewing the leaves, flowers, and fruits.

Names of Markhor in Different Languages

 Markhor has different names in different native languages of Pakistan. 

  • Pakistani People call it Shakhawat.
  • Persian, Urdu, and Kashmiri people call it Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan).
  • Pashto people call it marginal.
  • Ladaki people call rapoche male and rawache female animals.
  • Burushaski people call it halden.
  • Shina people call boom male and may around to female. 
  • Brahui people call rezkuh to male and harat to female animal.
  • Baluchi people call  pachinand male and buzkuh female
  • Wakhi people call youksh to male and much to female.
  • Khowar/Chitrali people call  Shara male and maxhegh female.

Colour of the Body of the Markhor

The body of a Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan), a type of wild goat native to Central Asia, is typically light to dark brown. The shade of brown can vary depending on the individual Markhor and the region in which it lives. Markhors (National Animal of Pakistan) also have distinctive white markings on their legs and rumps and a dark stripe running down their spine. Males also have long, twisted horns up to three feet long and are used for territorial displays and fighting.

Clothes of Markhor

Markhor is a wild goat species native to Central Asia and Pakistan, known for its impressive spiraling horns and rugged appearance. The Markhor’s (National Animal of Pakistan) habitat is typically mountainous and harsh, with extreme weather conditions such as heavy snowfall and intense heat.

To survive in such an environment, the Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan) has developed a thick, shaggy coat of fur that helps insulate it from the cold and protects it from the sun. This coat comprises two layers: a dense undercoat of fine hair and a longer, coarser outer layer.

The Markhor’s (National Animal of Pakistan) coat varies in color depending on the region and season. In the summer, it is usually reddish-brown, while in the winter, it can turn grayish-brown or even white. The male Markhor also has a distinct neck ruff and a long fringe of hair along its neck and chest.

In winter

The Markhor’s thick coat is well-suited for winter conditions, providing insulation and protection against the cold and snow. The Markhor’s (National Animal of Pakistan) skin becomes broader and longer during winter, with a more prominent neck ruff.

Markhor’s winter coat is typically a grayish-brown or white, which helps it blend in with the snow-covered landscape. The dense undercoat of fine hair and longer, coarser outer layer provide excellent insulation, trapping body heat and keeping the animal warm.

The Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan) has adapted other physical features to help it survive in winter. Its hooves have a soft, spongy outer layer that allows it to grip icy surfaces, and its broad chest and strong legs help it navigate through deep snow.

In summer

The Markhor’s (National Animal of Pakistan) summer coat is still thick and shaggy, providing some insulation against the heat and protecting the animal from the sun’s rays—however, the shorter length and lighter color help to regulate body temperature and prevent overheating.

Markhor’s physical features also help it cope with summer conditions. Its hooves are adapted to navigate rocky terrain, and it has a keen sense of balance that allows it to traverse steep slopes and cliffs easily. The Markhor (National Animal of Pakistan) also has a specialized digestive system that allows it to extract nutrients from thorny, fibrous vegetation, which is abundant in its summer habitat.

Structural Similarities and Differences

Markhors (National Animal of Pakistan) have wider hooves; these support the animals’ balance when climbing and walking because they live in an uneven habitat. These broad hooves protect them from falling from the top of mountains.

A dimorphic animal appears different from other species and is distinguished from others sexually.

The size difference between males and females in Markhors can be seen as males weigh much more than females. In addition, although male and female animals have the same hair as a beard, the male Markhor’s hair is longer than female hair and is thicker. 

Markhor is a social animal in behavior. Their behavioral differences can be seen in their sex. Females typically like to move in small groups that contain 8-10 members, and they seem very social with their group members. But males usually want to spend their time alone.

Male Markhors like to fight with their horns. Fighting is to get the female of their wish during the mating season. To win the demanding female, male animals fight antagonistically using their horns and do wrestling until they accept the power of the other.

Like typical goats, Markhors have the same breeding techniques. The gestation period for pregnant female animals lasts from 130 to 175 days. Rings appearing on the horns of animals indicate the age of the Markhor.

Markhors usually give birth to 1-2 once a year, as they breed one time a year. At two years, the female animal becomes mature; at five years, male animals mature sexually. Mating of the animal takes place in the winter season.

The birth period of the babies is in April and June. Babies take birth in a shallow hole. Mother takes responsibility for the provision of nourishment and protects her babies. But males do not take the responsibility of parenting. At 6-7 months, young babies can live free.

It has been noticed that its population is noted low, becoming low now. The lifespan of male Markhor is almost nine years.

When they age, the Markhors can be targeted by natural predators, such as wolves and leopards. In addition, Markhor is exposed to disasters that occur naturally, land sliding, rolling stones, and floods.

Hunting of Markhors

Humans are considered the primary predators of Markhor. People from different areas of Pakistan go to Gilgit and Chitral to hunt the Markhor animals as it is noticed that pursuing a Markhor animal is so prevalent in the Northern regions. The person who does the hunting of Markhor on the first try is prized with Markhor’s horns. It is the reason the people are interested in the hunting of Markhor. 

Usage of Markhors

Historically, Markhors have been hunted for their meat, fur, and horns, which are highly valued for their spiral shape and used in traditional medicine and as decorative items. However, the species is now endangered due to overhunting and habitat loss, and hunting is illegal in most areas.

In recent years, efforts have been made to protect the Markhor and its habitat through conservation programs and ecotourism. In some areas, hunting permits are granted for a limited number of individuals, and the proceeds are used to fund conservation efforts.

Markhors are also important ecologically, playing a key role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystem. As herbivores, they help to control vegetation growth and provide food for predators such as snow leopards and wolves.

In some areas, local communities have also developed sustainable use programs that allow them to benefit from the Markhor’s presence while protecting the species. These programs can include ecotourism, handicrafts, and other activities that generate income and promote conservation.

Natural Predators Of Markhors

Golden eagles, wolves, leopard cats, black bears, Himalayan lynx, snow leopards, and other animals easily prey on the young Markhors.

Poaching Of Markhor

The poaching of Markhor is one of the major threats. The main poachers are local inhabitants, hunting guides, border guards, and Afghans illegally crossing the borders. Poaching is the leading cause of the dispersion of the population.

Environmental pollution is a cause of harm for the Markhors, such as plastic shopping bags, bottles, and other forms of garbage.

Endangered Species

Markhor is considered an endangered species by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). This animal is in danger of extinction.

In 1993, it was noticed that almost 280 animals were found in Pakistan. Now Markhor’s population is 3600, according to the KPK wildlife. In Pakistan, Markhor’s population is improving now. Therefore Pakistan has requested IUCN erase its name from the red list.

Markhor is considered a National Animal Of Pakistan. Our duty as citizens is to protect this animal from all threats.KPK has passed the law on hunting Markhor illegally; by fining RS.3 500,000 as a punishment.

For foreigners, a hunting license of 6500 dollars is compulsory. Markhor WWF, Zoological Society of Pakistan, Wildlife of KPK, and Biodiversity are some organizations playing a vital role in protecting the animal. Organizations are trying to protect Markhor from poaching, hunting, and natural disasters like floods.


The Markhor is an iconic and culturally significant animal in Pakistan and has been declared the country’s national animal. However, due to overhunting and habitat loss, the species is now endangered and requires urgent conservation efforts to ensure its survival.

The government of Pakistan, in collaboration with local communities and conservation organizations, has taken steps to protect and conserve the Markhor and its habitat through initiatives such as protected areas, sustainable use programs, and ecotourism. These efforts have resulted in positive outcomes, with the Markhor population showing signs of recovery in some areas.

However, continued conservation efforts are necessary to ensure the species’ long-term survival, as well as the protection of its habitat and the preservation of its cultural and ecological values. The Markhor represents an important symbol of Pakistan’s natural heritage, and its conservation is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders involved.

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