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STATUS OF FLARE-HORNED MARKHOR (CAPRA FALCONERI FALCONERI) IN JUTIAL CONSERVANCY, DISTRICT GILGIT, GILGIT-BALTISTAN (PREVIOUSLY NORTHERN AREAS), PAKISTAN

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This study was carried out to investigate the status of the flare-horned markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) in Jutial Conservancy, District Gilgit, Gilgit-Baltistan. Field surveys were conducted during the winter (rut season) of 2014 when markhor population gathered in large herds at lower slopes. Habitat degradation due to removal of natural vegetation for fodder, firewood collection, over-grazing of pastures by livestock and uncontrolled movement of tourists in the core markhor habitat are still major factors that restrict the markhor population in the conservancy. The illegal hunting in the Conservancy is still a threat to markhor population due to movement of markhor to the adjacent/surrounding conservancies of Sai and Kargah. Field surveys using vantage point method for counting markhor were conducted in potential markhor habitat during December, 2014 and questionnaire-based interviews were also held with the community wildlife rangers, local hunters and shepherds to assess the ingenious knowledge and to compare the current and past status of the species. Survey results revealed the presence of a total of 162 markhor with the composition of kids/yearlings, females and males. The results of the study also indicated a significant increase in the population of markhor, including trophy-sized animals, validating that community participation and co-management has contributed to the conservation of the area's wildlife and habitat. The outcomes of the study further justify that the conservation interventions, specifically the trophy hunting program initiated in the Conservancy both by the Parks & Wildlife Department Gilgit-Baltistan and the Wildlife Conservation Society, are a successful model of community-based markhor conservation in the region, which can be replicated in other parts of the range of the species for collaborative management of markhor and other natural resources and to improve the livelihood of local communities.
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INT. J. BIOL. BIOTECH., 15 (2): 343-349, 2018.
STATUS OF FLARE-HORNED MARKHOR (CAPRA FALCONERI FALCONERI) IN
JUTIAL CONSERVANCY, DISTRICT GILGIT, GILGIT-BALTISTAN (PREVIOUSLY
NORTHERN AREAS), PAKISTAN
Mayoor Khan1, Pervaiz A. Siddiqui1, Abid Raza1 and Peter Zahler2
1Department of Zoology, University of Karachi, Karachi, 75270, Pakistan
2Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, New York, USA
Corresponding author: mayoor_khan2001@yahoo.com and zoicone@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
This study was carried out to investigate the status of the flare-horned markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) in Jutial
Conservancy, District Gilgit, Gilgit-Baltistan. Field surveys were conducted during the winter (rut season) of 2014
when markhor population gathered in large herds at lower slopes. Habitat degradation due to removal of natural
vegetation for fodder, firewood collection, over- grazing of pastures by livestock and uncontrolled movement of
tourists in the core markhor habitat are still major factors that restrict the markhor population in the conservancy. The
illegal hunting in the Conservancy is still a threat to markhor population due to movement of markhor to the
adjacent/surrounding conservancies of Sai and Kargah. Field surveys using vantage point method for counting markhor
were conducted in potential markhor habitat during December, 2014 and questionnaire-based interviews were also held
with the community wildlife rangers, local hunters and shepherds to assess the ingenious knowledge and to compare
the current and past status of the species. Survey results revealed the presence of a total of 162 markhor with the
composition of kids/yearlings, females and males. The results of the study also indicated a significant increase in the
population of markhor, including trophy-sized animals, validating that community participation and co-management
has contributed to the conservation of the area’s wildlife and habitat. The outcomes of the study further justify that the
conservation interventions, specifically the trophy hunting program initiated in the Conservancy both by the Parks &
Wildlife Department Gilgit-Baltistan and the Wildlife Conservation Society, are a successful model of community-
based markhor conservation in the region, which can be replicated in other parts of the range of the species for
collaborative management of markhor and other natural resources and to improve the livelihood of local communities.
Key words: Markhor, Capra falconeri falconeri, Jutial Conservancy, Gilgit-Baltistan
INTRODUCTION
Gilgit-Baltistan
Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Province is located between 35°-37° N and 72°-75° E, and is considered the
water tower and energy hub of the country based on its significant water resources (Fig.1). Three of the greatest
mountain ranges of the world the Himalayas, the Karakoram, and the Hindu Kush collide here. These high
mountains block the influence of the summer monsoons that affect the southern Indian subcontinent, so most parts
of GB are extremely arid.
Gilgit-Baltistan can be characterized as a high, cold desert and dry temperate region. Below 6,000 feet in
elevation the region is essentially barren and considered to be rocky desert with little or no vegetation. Above 6,000
feet vegetation is dominated by sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) and scattered juniper (Juniperus macropoda), while at
higher elevations in valleys to the south there are open forests of pine (Pinus wallichiana and P. gerardiana), deodar
cedar (Cedrus deodara), and spruce (Picea smithiana) at roughly 8,000 to 12,000 feet (Zahler and Woods, 1997).
This region is a globally important conservation landscape and has been included in the list of Global 200
Ecoregions by the World Wildlife Fund and an Endemic Bird Area of Urgent Biological Importance by Birdlife
International. The region has significant populations of several globally important wildlife species including 54
mammals, 230 birds, 23 reptiles, 20 cold-water fish and 6 amphibian species (GoP/IUCN, 2002). The area contains
some of the last remaining arid conifer forests in the Greater Himalayan mountain chain critically important to
both wildlife and local livelihoods and it is also one of the important strongholds for a range of spectacular and
critically threatened wildlife species, most notably the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) and the flare-horned markhor.
It is also one of the remaining strongholds in Pakistan for species such as the Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii),
Ladakh urial (Ovis orientalis vignei), Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos
isabellinus), several endangered pheasants, and a host of other rare and threatened wildlife species.
344 MAYOOR KHAN ET AL.,
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY 15 (2): 343-349, 2018.
Flare-horned Markhor
The flare-horned markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) belongs to the Caprinae group of the Bovidae family
(Schaller, 1977; Roberts, 1977). Ellerman and Morrison-Scott (1951) identified five sub-species of markhor in
Pakistan: Astor markhor, Kashmir or Pir Panjal markhor, Kabul markhor, Suleiman markhor, and Chiltan markhor,
whereas Roberts (1969, 1977) described the former four forms as subspecies of markhor and considered the Chiltan
markhor as a hybrid between true markhor and wild goat. All the markhor sub-species were categorized as
“Endangered” under the IUCN’s Red List of 2008 (Valdez, 2008). Most of the world population of markhor lives in
Pakistan where two sub-species are now recognized, i.e. flared-horned markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri) and
straight-horned markhor (Capara falconeri megaceros) (Shaller and Khan, 1975; Hess et al., 1997).
Markhor are generally found in steep mountain conditions and where rainfall is low and erratic, and are found
between 600-3,600 meters in elevation (Roberts, 1977). Markhor are gregarious; females with young males
associate in small herds, but when the terrain is of restricted nature they may associate in large herds. Adult males
lead a largely solitary life; they join female herds for rut in late November and stay with them until early spring. The
markhor feeds early in the morning and late in the evening, but in mid-winter they have been observed feeding
intermittently throughout the day.
The markhor is one of the most impressive of the “mountain monarchs” the wild sheep and goats of Asia. An
adult male has huge corkscrew horns, and it is also one of the best climbers in its family, often scaling trees to feed
on foliage. The markhor is critical to the landscape as it is one of the few wild prey items in its range for large
carnivores such as the snow leopard, and because it is an important local and national cultural icon as the “National
Animal of Pakistan". Unfortunately, in recent times the markhor was under threat of extinction across its range,
including the substantial global population within Pakistan’s borders. In recent decades the markhor population
dramatically decreased due to unrelenting hunting pressure, and existed in highly fragmented subpopulations
(Schaller, 1977). Excessive removal of natural vegetation for grazing and domestic energy by ever-increasing
numbers of human and domestic livestock has led to widespread degradation of fragile alpine and subalpine
pastures, which consequently has threatened the survival of the region’s most threatened wildlife species including
the markhor, their habitats and the mountain ecosystem.
Focused community-based conservation efforts in Gilgit-Baltistan are now seeing a significant population
recovery in markhor across a large part of this region. Because of community-based conservation efforts aimed at
markhor, the markhor is now listed as Near Threatened by IUCN (2015 estimate: ~5,800 individuals) due to the
absence of a projected total population decline and ongoing conservation efforts to keep this population level
(IUCN, 2015).
Fig. 1. Map of Historical Range of Flare-horned Markhor in Gilgit-Baltistan.
China
STATUS OF FLARE-HORNED MARKHOR IN JUTIAL, GILGIT-BALTISTAN 345
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY 15 (2): 343-349, 2018.
Objectives of the Study
The main objective of study was to assess the current population status of the flare-horned markhor (Capra
falconeri falconeri) in Jutial conservancy of District Gilgit. This study also aimed to collect data on associated
wildlife and other natural resources of Jutial Conservancy. Another objective of the study was to identify the
number of trophy-size male markhor in order to help the relevant government departments and community
organizations make sustainable management decisions for the allocation of markhor trophy quotas and to strengthen
the community-based watch-and-ward system for co-management of markhor and other natural resources found in
the conservancy.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Description of the Study Area
Jutial Conservancy is located in the Hindu Kush Range to the south of Gilgit town. The valleys of the
Conservancy include Jutial, Sakwar, Barmas and Minawar, which are situated on the upper bank of the Gilgit River
and adjacent to the main town of Gilgit. This region has an area of 201 km2 (Fig. 2. Map of Jutial Conservancy
Gilgit). The Conservancy is located between 35° N and 74° E, and it is considered as part of the core markhor
habitat in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Fig. 2. Map of Jutial Conservancy Gilgit.
346 MAYOOR KHAN ET AL.,
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY 15 (2): 343-349, 2018.
Major forest species are blue pine, fir, spruce, juniper, willow, birch and ash while wildlife species include
markhor, snow leopard, ibex (Capra sibirica), lynx (Lynx lynx), musk deer (Moschus cupreus), wolf (Canis lupus),
leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), and woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus cinereus) (P&WDGB and WCS,
2016). Jutial Conservancy is bounded by Sai and Kargah Conservancies to the southwest and the Gilgit River to the
north. Jutial valley is quite well developed because of its closeness to Gilgit town, which is administered by the
Municipal Committee and Cantonment Board.
The Parks & Wildlife Department of the GB Government and The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have
been implementing a community-based conservation program in the four valleys of the Conservancy for the last two
decades (WDGB & WCS, 2006). These conservation initiatives include community mobilization, conservation
education, resource mapping, wildlife surveys, establishment of resource governance institutions (Wildlife
Conservation and Social Development Organizations or WCSDOs), community watch and ward system, and
development of collaborative management of markhor, associated wildlife species and other natural resources in the
Conservancy.
The four valley-based WCSDOs of the Conservancy were established and registered with the Government of Gilgit-
Baltistan (P &WDGB and WCS, 2016). These include WCSDOs of Jutial, Sakawar, Minawar, and Barmas. These
WCSDOs work closely with the relevant government departments, NGOs, and other organizations to undertake
various conservation and development initiatives for the local economic development and to promote peace and
harmony among the diverse communities of the area.
SS: Sporting Scope; DC: Digital Camera
Table 1. Flare-horned Markhor Observation Sites in Jutial Conservancy Gilgit.
S#
Valley
Observation site
Estimated aerial distance (m)
1
Jutial
Rakhoni Tik
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
Chan Chan Daar
800m
Binocular, SS, DC
Daari
100m
Binocular, SS, DC
Chan Chan Khor
1100m
Binocular, SS, DC
Shaye Daar
1200m
Binocular, SS, DC
Bhgno Kho
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
Choki Daar
900m
Binocular, SS, DC
Narkhor Daar
1100m
Binocular, SS, DC
Chan Chan Tok
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
Chani Khor
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
2
Barmas
Ashkali
800m
Binocular, SS, DC
Chawburie
1200m
Binocular, SS, DC
Dologopi
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
Gonbatha
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
3
Sakwar
UwaluKhu
600m
Binocular, SS, DC
Bidirung
800m
Binocular, SS, DC
DhuNalla
900m
Binocular, SS, DC
Korniril
1200m
Binocular, SS, DC
Kornillphiyao/ Kornill Hall
1100m
Binocular, SS, DC
4
Minawar
Sheral Khur
800m
Binocular, SS, DC
Gooey Kue
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
Chooko Naar
1200m
Binocular, SS, DC
Baah Kure Gah
700m
Binocular, SS, DC
Meropi Dud
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
Ganary Khur
1200m
Binocular, SS, DC
Danoey Muti
1000m
Binocular, SS, DC
Baro karo
900m
Binocular, SS, DC
STATUS OF FLARE-HORNED MARKHOR IN JUTIAL, GILGIT-BALTISTAN 347
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY 15 (2): 343-349, 2018.
Population Estimation
During the winter an intensive survey was performed from 22-25 December, 2014 in the four valleys of Jutial
Conservancy Gilgit. For estimating population, the vantage point method was used, as this is an acknowledged
appropriate method to count wild ungulates in rugged mountainous habitats (Shackleton, 1997). During this study,
all visible areas were carefully scanned for direct observations of the animals, as well as their signs of presence i.e.
fecal pellets and hairs. Based on general surveillance findings, vantage points were marked for further detailed
studies. Vantage points (n=18) were selected at such places as along ridge lines from where a clear and unobstructed
view of the maximum area could be scanned to count the animals. Time specification for taking direct observations
was adjusted according to the activity patterns of the animal. The best time for observation of markhor is usually 7
to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. However, in winter markhor feed intermittently throughout the day from dawn to dusk and
observations can be made throughout the day.
Age and Sex wise Distribution and Identification
All the animals observed during scanning were counted with the help of binoculars (Nikon BM20682, 8-24x25)
and spotting scope (Nikon 20x60). Efforts were made to classify each observed animal as young or mature and
female or male. Males were further classified by size, using horn length as an indicator of age, using class I (1-3
years old), class II (3-4 years old), class III (5-6 years old) and class IV (>6 years old) as proposed and defined by
Schaller and Mirza (1974). Photographs were taken by using digital camera (Nikkor 36X, 12.1 megapixels). Visual
scan-based counting of individuals was considered as the minimum population of the markhor at different localities
of the valleys in the Conservancy. Besides direct sighting of animals, information on population and conservation
status of markhor was also collected from local hunters, shepherds and other knowledgeable local people using
semi-structured questionnaires.
RESULTS
Status of Markhor
During the winter survey from 22-25 December, 2014 in the four valleys of Jutial Conservancy Gilgit, a total of
162 markhor were observed, with a composition of 74 young, 56 females and 32 males, including 5 trophy-size
animals (>6 years old) in the Conservancy (Table 2).
Table 2. Summary of the Rut Survey 2014 in Jutial Conservancy Gilgit.
S#
Name of Valleys
K/YL
AF
Male
Total
C -1
C-11
C-111
C-1V
1
Jutial
32
27
5
3
3
2
72
2
Sakwar
23
19
4
4
1
2
53
3
Minawar
13
6
2
1
1
1
24
4
Barmas
6
4
2
0
1
0
13
Total
74
56
13
8
6
5
162
% age observed
46
35
8
5
4
3
324
Mean
18.5
14.0
3.3
2.0
1.5
1.3
K: Kids; YL: Year Ling; AF: Adult Female; C-1: (1-3 years old), C11; (3-4 years old), C111: (5-6 years old), C1V: (>6 years
old)/Trophy Size.
Beside field surveys, information was also collected from informed local people, e.g. hunters, shepherds, and
wood cutters/collectors, about various aspects of the population of the target species. The communities perceive a
gradual increase in the population of markhor in Jutial Conservancy with the passage of time. The community
considered that the population has increased as a result of a ban on illegal hunting and community-based
conservation initiatives started by the Parks & Wildlife Department Gilgit-Baltistan, WCS, and the respective
WCSDOs (Fig.3).
DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Because of the complex mountains and forest ecosystem in Gilgit Baltistan the wildlife in the region, especially
in Jutial Conservancy, is surprisingly rich and diverse, with some being endangered and endemic to the region.
However wildlife in the region has suffered significant pressures in recent decades. Hess et al. (1997), Shackleton
348 MAYOOR KHAN ET AL.,
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY 15 (2): 343-349, 2018.
(1997), and Khan et al. (2014) reported that populations of markhor were negatively influenced by illegal hunting,
habitat degradation, slow reproduction and genetic isolation. Ali (2008) reported that unsustainable use of natural
resources by the people living in and around this region due to limited livelihood opportunities have led to the
depletion of habitat of wildlife and resultantly the markhor population was declining in many areas. Habitat loss
(Shackleton 2001; Arshad et al., 2012), poaching (Woodford et al., 2004; Bhatnagar et al., 2009), uncontrolled
hunting (Johnson, 1998; Arshad et al., 2012) and livestock competition for forage (GoP and IUCN, 2002;
Woodford, et al., 2004; Arshad et al., 2012) were the major causes of depletion of this precious wildlife resource.
However, this study shows that the markhor population in Jutial Conservancy has increased from a previous
estimate of a minimum of 118 in 2011 (WCS, unpub. data) to a minimum of 162 animals in 2014. The study also
suggests that markhor population in Jutial Conservancy of Gilgit is stable as young and female and male ratio
matches the assumed population dynamics of stable wild ungulate populations. However, poaching and habitat
degradation are still the main threats to the population of markhor and other wildlife in this region.
The findings of this study suggest that partnership among GB Parks and Wildlife Department, local
communities and conservation NGOs, as well as provision of economic incentives through sustainable markhor
trophy hunting, have helped improve the status of flare-horned markhor in Jutial Conservancy.
This study concluded that a viable markhor population exists in the Conservancy, which will further spread to
the adjacent conservancies if the current conservation initiatives are continued and strengthened by the relevant
government departments and conservation NGOs. The markhor trophy hunting program and local watch-and-ward
community ranger patrol and monitoring system in the Conservancy can be considered a successful model of a
community-based conservation program and can be easily replicated in the surrounding Conservancies and other
parts of markhor range in GB.
Keeping in view the findings of the study, the conservation of flare-horned markhor populations in Jutial
Conservancy of District Gilgit should be continued as a collaborative co-management initiative that ensures the
active participation of the communities through their respective WCSDOs and community wildlife rangers. Field
research should continue to be focused on markhor and other threatened and endangered wild species, including
regular surveys to determine threats, population status and trends. Capacity building training should be organized on
wildlife survey techniques, data recording and proper use of survey equipment, e.g. binoculars, compass, spotting
scopes and cameras, etc. Livestock grazing in the core habitat of markhor in Jutial conservancy should be managed
through a proper pasture management plan. The public’s awareness about the importance of b iodiversity in general
and threatened species in particular should be raised to win their support and cooperation in conservation efforts.
The trophy hunting program contributes to the conservation of markhor and its habitat in the Conservancy by
providing an enormous financial incentive to protect and conserve the species. The increasing population of
markhor, as indicated by the wildlife surveys, is quite encouraging. However, there is a need to assess the success,
effectiveness, and sustainability of current markhor trophy hunting in the Conservancy and provide
recommendations that will directly and positively impact conservation activities and outputs (e.g. Lindsey et al.,
2007; Shackleton, 2001). Such an assessment, and the implementation of these recommendations, are likely to
greatly enhance markhor conservation in the area.
The relevant Government Departments and conservation NGOs, specifically the Parks & Wildlife Department
GB and Wildlife Conservation Society, should continue to build local capacity and also introduce other sustainable
livelihood options besides trophy hunting in accordance with the approved Conservation and Development Plan and
agreements signed with WCSDOs of the Conservancy. For example, promotion of eco-tourism as an alternative
livelihood in the area can also help to protect markhor, its habitat and other associated wildlife species. It will also to
improve the livelihoods of local communities. Training of local tourist guides, porters, cooks and helpers while
registration of their relevant business with national-level tour operators and companies would be an important step
in this process. Maintenance of camping sites, construction of tracks, huts, link roads, and valley bridges while
setting up of stages as per local preferences with well-elaborated tourist plans might be a milestone for promotion of
environment-friendly tourism in the Conservancy.
Progress must also be made in ensuring legal actions against violators involved in poaching, illegal forest
felling and other illegal natural resource degradation cases reported by the respective WCSDOs and community
rangers of the Conservancy. The community-based watch-and-ward mechanism should be enhanced to minimize
chances of markhor poaching and other illegal activities in the conservancy.
Economic incentive including alternate income sources should be provided to the people living around the
habitat of markhor. Community-based research studies should be conducted on regular basis to assess markhor
population trend, conservation status and other ecological parameters for long-term conservation of the species and
other natural resources in the Conservancy.
STATUS OF FLARE-HORNED MARKHOR IN JUTIAL, GILGIT-BALTISTAN 349
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY 15 (2): 343-349, 2018.
Acknowledgements
This study was fully sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society, USA through its WCS Pakistan Country
Program. The authors would like to acknowledge the field surveyors, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Parks
& Wildlife Department Gilgit-Baltistan (PWDGB) and Wildlife Conservation and Social Development
Organizations (WCSDOs) of Jutial, Sakwar, Minawar and Barmas of Jutial Conservancy for the required support to
conduct this study. We also thank the Community Wildlife Rangers (CWRs), local guides of the respective
community resource organizations (WCSDOs) and other surveyors of the PWDGB and WCS for their active
participation to carry out the field surveys and collect markhor data as per survey methodology.
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(Accepted for publication March 2018)
... Secondary data on markhor populations in the watersheds not covered by the direct surveys were obtained from the published literature [24,[43][44][45][46] and wildlife department officials. The purpose was to project a single density map of the species across its distribution range. ...
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Citation: Ahmad, S.; Rehman, E.U.; Ali, H.; Din, N.; Haider, J.; Din, J.U.; Nawaz, M.A. Density Pattern of Flare-Horned Markhor (Capra falconeri) in Northern Pakistan. Sustainability 2022, 14, 9567.
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Gilgit-Baltistan (Northern Pakistan) has a rich diversity of wild caprinae and is one of key area for caprinae community-based conservation programs. In this program, selective hunting of small proportion of adult males with large horns is done on annual basis to generate money for the conservation, habitat improvement and livelihood of local communities. The current study aimed at collecting reliable data about population status of Astor markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri). For this purpose, fixed-point direct count method was used for estimation of Astor markhor population in 16 catchments including 15 Community-controlled Hunting Areas (CCHAs). A total of 1087 animals were counted, comprising of 266 (24%) males (including sixty-two (6%) trophy-sized males), 388 (36%) females, 227 (21%) yearling and 206 (19%) kids. Population density of Astor markhor was estimated 0.13 individuals/km², with male to female ratio 0.69:1, yearling to female 0.54:1 and kids to female 0.51:1. CCHA/catchment wise assessments showed that Kargah area have highest population (211 animals). It is suggested that consequences of trophy hunting should be strictly contingent upon population data obtained through robust methods, duly verified by a panel of conservation experts and may be extended to other areas also for fruitful results.
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The Kashmir markhor, Capra falconeri cashmiriensis, is classified as endangered throughout its range because of habitat loss, unsustainable hunting and competition with domestic livestock. We investigated environmental factors influencing species distribution in Chitral Gol National Park (CGNP) based on the ‘presence-only’ dataset and predicted the potential distribution of markhor in order to compute a habitat suitability (HS) map using ecological niche factor analysis (ENFA). Kashmir markhor presence-only data was recorded for a period of four years during 2003–2007 from 487 point locations in summer, spring and winter. The geographical position of animals and the related topographic and habitat variables were used to accurately assess species occurrence within the study area and to predict its distribution. ENFA is used to describe distribution patterns and to identify key variables influencing the ecological niche of markhor. The ENFA model revealed that markhor occurred at a mean elevation of 2818 m with a mean slope of 33.4°. The species requirements seem different from the average habitat conditions available in the study area. Whereas the specialisation factor indicated some specific habitat requirements of markhor, it was found that they still occupied a wider ecological niche. The model suggested that markhor avoid higher elevations but showed a strong relationship with comparatively steep slopes. ENFA computed 25% of the area of CGNP under suitable and optimal conditions for the long-term existence of Kashmir markhor in CGNP. ENFA computed a HS map for markhor showing its widespread distribution within the study area. Steep slopes and a lower to medium elevation range were mostly preferred by markhor.
Article
Full-text available
The flare horned markhor Capra falconeri occurs in northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Most of the species’ range is along volatile international borders and limited information is available, especially for the population of the Pir Panjal or Kashmir markhor C. f. falconeri in India. From October 2004 to April 2005 we therefore conducted the first range-wide survey of the species in India since independence. The markhor's range has shrunk from c. 300 km2 in the late 1940s to c. 120 km2 in 2004–2005. Our surveys and interviews with key local informants indicate that 350–375 markhor may yet exist in the region. All the populations are small (usually < 50) and fragmented. International conflicts, developmental projects, the needs of an increasing human population and poaching, along with lack of awareness, are the primary threats to the species. The largest population in India, in Kajinag, may have potential for long-term survival if immediate conservation measures can be implemented.
& compiler) & IUCN Caprinae Specialist group. Wild Sheep and Goats, and their Relatives: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae
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Status of Suleiman Markhor and Afghan urial populations in the Torghar Hills
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