Markhor is known as Pakistan’s National animal. Screw horn or “screw-horned goat” are the other names that are known for this animal in Pakistan. The Markhor word is derived from Persian, where Mar shows the meaning of snake and Khor shows the meaning 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, Karakoram.
Aegoceros (Capra) Falconeri is a scientifically known name proposed in 1839 by Johann Andreas Wagner.
Subspecies of National Animal of Pakistan-Markhor
- Astor or Astore markhor
- Kabul Markhor
- Kashmir Markhor
- Suleiman Markhor
Why It’s taken as a National Animal of Pakistan?
Countries choose their own national animal that is used to represent the nation’s image to the world’s people. Its uniqueness is used to show a country’s symbol. The national animal is taken due to its traditional, ecological, cultural, and mythological traits.
Reason To Choose Official Symbol By ISI
Markhor is an official symbol for the Inter-Services Intelligence due to its sign of 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 by ISI.
- Markhor animal is considered as a National Animal of Pakistan.
- People relate this animal with bravery as it is considered that markhor animal was used to live at the top of the mountain. They were capable of killing the hazardous species of very poisonous snakes and those teasing human beings. So Markhor 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 resides in the upper area of mountains, almost 550-3,700 meters high. Markhor usually likes to live in forests made up of oaks, pine trees, and juniper trees as in these areas Markhor found a lot of food.
Markhor can be traced in different regions of Pakistan like Northern areas, e.g. in Chitral, Kashmir, Quetta, Gilgit Baltistan, and other valleys like Neelam Valley, Hunza Valley, Kalash Valley. Markhor is known as 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. As 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.
- Pashto people call it marginal.
- Ladaki people call rapoche to male and rawache to female animals.
- Burushaski people call it halden.
- Shina people call boom to male and may around to female
- Brahui people call rezkuh to male and harat to female animal
- Baluchi people call pachinand to male and buzkuh to female
- Wakhi people call youksh to male and much to female
- Khowar/Chitrali people call Shara to male and maxhegh to female
Colour of the Body of the Markhor
The Markhors contains massive body
They are greyish. They have white color at their chests and bellies. But sometimes it’s in red. Their legs are black and white, and their faces are dark in color.
Clothes of Markhor
Like human beings, the animal wears distinct clothes in changing seasons. For example, the coat they wear in their hair sometimes grows and then shed off in different seasons.
The coats of the animal grow longer and thicker to insulate the body of the Markhor.
The coats of the animal shed off to maintain the body temperature according to the weather.
Structural Similarities and Differences
Markhors have wider hooves; these support the animals to maintain balance when climbing and walking because they live in an uneven habitat. These broad hooves protect them from falling from the top of mountains.
Sexually the animal is dimorphic, as both the species of animals seem not the same and are distinguished from each other.
Size differences can be noticed in Markhors 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 animal is noticeably a social one in behavior. But their behavioral differences can be noticed in the sex they belong to. Females typically like to move in small groups that contain 8-10 members, and they seem very social within their group members. But males usually want to spend their time alone.
Male Markhors like to fight with their horns. The reason behind fighting is to get the female of their wish during the season of mating. 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 period of gestation 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 for one time a year. At the age of 2 years, the female animal becomes mature, and at five years, male animals become 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 the responsibility of the provision of nourishment and protects her babies. But males do not take the responsibility of parenting. At the age of 6-7 months, the young babies are capable of living 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 get older, the Markhors can be targeted by natural predators, for example, 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 belonging to different areas of Pakistan go to Gilgit and Chitral to hunt the Markhor animals. As it is noticed that to pursue a Markhor animal is so prevalent in the Northern areas. The person who does the hunting of Markhor on the first try is prized with the Markhor’s horns. This is the reason the people are interested in the hunting of Markhor.
Usage of Markhors
- Markhor’s horns are usually used to make different medicines in the medicine market of Asia.
- Markhor’s meat is used in the diet of a human being.
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 who illegally cross 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.
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 the Markhor’s population is 3600, according to the KPK wildlife. In Pakistan, Markhor’s population is improving now. Therefore Pakistan has requested IUCN to erase its name from the red list.
Markhor is considered as a National Animal; it’s our duty as a citizen to protect this animal from all the 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, and Wildlife of KPK, and Biodiversity are some organizations playing a vital role in protecting the animal. Organizations are putting efforts to protect Markhor from poaching, hunting, and natural disasters like floods, etc.