Markhor

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I was able to witness about fifty Markhor, which is also the national animal of Pakistan, when I was visiting Chitral a few weeks ago. They came sprinting down the mountains at sunset to drink water from the river and it was one of the most beautiful and fascinating sights I have ever seen. Luckily, we were also able to take a few pictures of them, which I have posted for you to see.

The Markhor is a member of the goat family, which may up to 110 kg (240 lb). It has unique spiraling horns, which may be straight or flare outwards depending on the subspecies. The goat occupies dry cliffside habitats in sparsely wooded mountainous regions at altitudes ranging from 700 m from November to May up to 4000 m in the summer. In the spring and summer time, the markhor mainly grazes on tussocks of grass and when it’s dried up, they browse on leaves and twigs.

According to Wikipedia, markhor are crepuscular, active in the early morning and late afternoon. Females gather in herds of up to nine individuals and males are normally solitary. During mating season, males fight each other for the attention of females. These fights involve lunging until the two males’ horns are locked together, and then twisting and pushing until one male falls.

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The animal is largely found in the Northern Areas of Pakistan especially in Chitral, Diamer, and Astore regions, parts of Balistan and in Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park near Quetta.  

Unfortunately, our national animal is an endangered one. The reason for the markhor’s decline include intensive hunting for trophies, meat, and the Asian medicine market along with disturbance and loss of habitat due to expanded human settlement and competition from domestic livestock.

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3 comments

  1. Wow! How lucky are you to have the opportunity to first witness such amazing scenery and then to also be able to capture it so beautifully on camera. I read your previous posts on Chitral and loved the amazing shots you took. I haven’t had the chance to travel much around Pakistan unfortunately but would one day love to be able to travel to all these wonderful places I hear and read about. Unfortunately I don’t know if I will be able to because being a female it is kind of hard, or maybe even impossible to travel to these areas all by myself. Sigh. Oh well, hope to see you cover more on your Pakistan travels in the future. And again, lovely job with the photography.

  2. Thanks for your message, Sarah. To be honest, I haven’t travelled much in Pakistan either so was most excited when this opportunity of travelling to Chitral came up. You should know that despite the fact that you are female, you won’t have any problems at all. Sultana, my friend in Islamabad has just gone to Chitral, Mastuj, and Gilgit alone and is trekking her way through the mountains without even a guide. I just got an e-mail from her yesterday as she just reached Mastuj and is having the time of her life. You should really take out a few weeks to come check out Pakistan and explore our country’s beauty.

    I’ll be sure to cover more of Pakistan on the blog and I continue hearing feedback from you as well!

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