Species: Markhor (Capra falconeri)
Status: Endangered (EN)
Interesting Fact: The horns of the male markhor can reach up to 1.6 metres in length!
The stunning markhor is a species of goat that roams the precipitous rock faces of central Asia. It is a highly skilled climber and nimbly traverses mountains in order to avoid predators such as the snow leopard. Mainly feeding on tussock grass, female and young markhor live in small herds whilst the males are solitary until the breeding season or ‘rut’. The males then join the herds and compete aggressively for the right to mate by rearing up and crashing their impressive horns together.
Unfortunately for the markhor, its spectacular horns are also partly its downfall. This species has been hunted excessively for its meat and horns and now no longer exists in populations larger than 250 individuals. Many populations have been hunted to extinction. The markhor is now legally protected throughout its range and trade in this species is prohibited without a permit. Strangely, one of the most successful conservation efforts has been a trophy hunting programme where local communities allow a small quota of trophy hunts per year. The economic benefit of allowing a few hunts encourages communities to conserve the markhor.
Find out more about markhor conservation here.
Becky Moran, ARKive Media Researcher