Markhor is an impressive creature with twisted horns which can grow up to 5 feet tall. They are found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and some central Asian countries like Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. This wild goat is also the national animal of Pakistan. The life span of Markhor is from 12 to 13 years.
There are three species of Markhor: Flare horned Markhor, Kabul or straight-horned Markhor and Bukharan Markhor. All the three looks more or less the same but Bukharan is a bit more impressive with its twisted horns. There is a slight difference between male Markhor and female Markhor. Male Markhor has long hair and is twice as big as female counterparts. They also have long hair from their chest and chin and can grow over 90 kg's in weight while the female Markhor is less hairy and body is less expansive than male counterparts. But, due to hunting of these animals, mainly by trophy hunters, they are highly endangered.
Markhors have keen senses to detect enemies
Markhors have a keen sense of sight and smell that help them to detect their enemies from a distance. The big cats like snow leopard, lynxes and even wolves have been seen hunting the young Markhors.
Markhors use their curled horns for digging in the ground and removing the tree bark. They live in the mountain terrains and are skilled in climbing. They have wide feet that help them balance while climbing on the trees. Markhors are usually greyish with white chest and underbellies, legs are black and white, and the face, dark. They graze on grass during summers and eat twigs and shrubs in winters. The cud falling out from its mouth is often used for medicinal purposes. Some people believe it as a medicinal remedy, and use it to heal wounds and snake bites.
One of the interesting facts about Markhors is that they can grow and shed their hair depending on the season. During the cold, they grow long hair and in the warm season they shed it and become less dense.
And one more feisty fact about this courageous animal is that they use their horns for fighting to have a mate session with female Markhor. To get the desired attention from female Markhor, Male wooer aggressively fights each other until they fall over, and the last one standing gets the female Markhor as a prize.
According to 2011 Green Global Tribunal, Markhor population declined to 2500. In J & K the numbers were reduced to 400 only and Green Global Tribunal considered the species highly endangered in 2015. But due to the conservation efforts, the number of Markhor was revived and it was marked as "near threatened" by IUCN red list in 2015.
Hunting of Markhor is illegal in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India but poaching of these animals still exist and the beautifully twisted horns of this goat are black marketed to different countries of the world mainly by trophy hunters. We should highly discourage people from hunting this animal which is at the verge of extinction.
The author has presented a highly informative article and deserves appreciation for choosing a unique subject for writing. Markhor is also known as screw horn goat. In India, it is found only in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The word markhor is derived from the Persian language. The word ‘mar' means snake. The word ‘khor' means eater. This word represents markhor's ability to kill a snake. The name may also be given as their horns resemble coiled snakes.
Markhors are found on mountains on elevations ranging between 600-3600 meters. They are primarily found in scrub forests which are densely populated by oaks, junipers, and pines. They are highly active during early morning and late hours of noon.
They live and wander in flocks. It usually comprises of nine in number. It includes young ones as well as adult females. Adult males wander alone. During the summer months, females return to the highest mountain ridges. Male markhors can be found in the forest. In winters, both males and females can be spotted in the forest. During this period mating takes place. Female markhors usually give birth to one or two kids. Three births are very rare.
Reena Upadhya, thank you for the appreciation. Yes, the Markhor is indeed an interesting goat. We get amazing facts about this as we read more and more about this animal. It is highly threatened. I thank you for adding more information on the subject.
Markhor is a very big wild goat. It has a thick coat of silky hair. Male Markhor has a distinct grey mane reaching till the knees. The mane of female Markhor is much shorter. The horns of male Markhor is spectacularly long, flat and spirally twisted. The color of the mane changes with the season. It is reddish-brown in summer and greyish in winter. It lives in herds (numbering twelve to fifty) in the western Himalayas at a height of 600 metre to 3600 metre.
This beautiful animal was ruthlessly hunted for meat and silky hair. Now it is highly endangered. I have written about this endangered animal in the following article:-
Partha K. I am glad you have written about this wild goat. I like the animal more, the more I read about it.