ArticlePDF Available

Trophy hunting impacts on Kashmir Markhor and changing the negative perception of local communities about wildlife in Chitral District, Pakistan

Zoo’s Print Vol. 35 | No. 10 12
21 October 2020
Mammal Tales
The diversity of wild ora and fauna across
multiple landscapes is vast and stark
variation exists owing to a diverse set of
climatic conditions in Pakistan. Mainly,
northern anks of Pakistan are considered
biodiversity hotspots as they harbor
an array of iconic mammalian species,
including Markhor Capra falconeri, Blue
Sheep Psuedis nayaur, Himalayan Brown
Bear Ursus arctos, Himalayan Ibex Capra
sibirica, and Snow Leopard Panthera
uncia (Khan & Baig 2020). This species
richness is attributed to the variation in
natural habitats ranging from dry temperate
forests to alpine and sub-alpine meadows
(Baig & Al-Subaiee 2009). Most of these
species are pivotal from a conservation
perspective as their existence is an
indicator of a healthy ecosystem, and this
factor enhances manifold when the fragile
landscape of this part of the world is under
Among these iconic taxa, Kashmir
Markhor Capra falconeri cashmeriensis
is one such species of conservation
focus as it is threatened for survival
and classied as “Near threatened” by
IUCN (Michel & Rosen 2016). It is facing
many anthropogenic pressures akin to
overgrazing leading
to habitat degradation,
habitat fragmentation
as a result of
projects coupled
with climate
change. These
factors are
proving fatal to
the survival of
this magnicent
species in the
longterm. Along
with these, one of
the signicant threats for Markhor was
poaching by the local communities.
The government and other NGOs working
for the protection and preservation of
natural resources are doing their best and
have introduced some initiatives aiming to
involve locals in conservation and bring up
a sense of stewardship for overall wildlife in
general and Markhor in particular.
One such activity was the commencing of
trophy hunting of Markhor in Chitral District,
and then this activity was replicated to
other areas and targeted other species like
Himalayan Ibex by the Provincial Wildlife
Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Trophy hunting impacts on Kashmir Markhor
and changing the negative perception of local
communities about wildlife in Chitral District,
Zoo’s Print Vol. 35 | No. 10 13
21 October 2020
Mammal Tales
Although this practice was initiated in 1983,
yet the local communities were not directly
involved. To engage local communities
directly in conservation, two community
game reserves were established, Tooshi-
Sasha and Gehraite-Golain Markhor
Conservancies, where trophy hunting was
ocially authorized in 1998. This scheme
was initiated with sole
aim of
the community
in conservation
eorts of this iconic species
and to instill the sense of stewardship in
them to become the custodian of overall
wildlife (Ali et al. 2015). It is pertinent to
note that revenue generated in lieu of
permit fee from the hunters, 80% share
is given to the community while 20%
revenue goes to government (Wildlife
Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 2010).
The number of hunting permits are issued
based on annual population survey of the
species. The recent survey indicates that
population is on rise and stands close
to 2700 individuals. consequently the
trophy hunting quota has been
increased up to three in the
past decade as a consequence
of this scheme. The most
pleasant and positive outcome
of this eort is the change
in the perception of local
communities about wildlife
in general and Markhor in
particular as now people deem
them their “own precious asset”.
The amount paid to them
is deposited in the Village
Conservation Committee (VCC)
account from where it is spent
on the overall development and
infrastructure projects, which have
brought a very positive change in their
life. We quote few instances here that
reect the success of this initiative. In one
village of Tooshi-Sasha Conservancy, a
community school has been established
from the fund of trophy hunting and
the teachers are paid from it. Now the
children of that village obtain their primary
education from the very school, and this
has led to enhancement in literacy ratio,
especially among females. Similarly, a
bridge has been constructed from the said
scheme and surprisingly named as Markhor
© Abdullah Khan
Zoo’s Print Vol. 35 | No. 10 14
21 October 2020
Mammal Tales
Ejaz Rehman1 & Romaan Hayat
1Snow Leopard Foundation, Islamabad Pakistan
2College of Wildlife and Protected Areas, Northeast
Forestry University, Harbin 150040, P.R.China
(corresponding author)
Citation: Rehman, E. & R.H. Khattak (2020).
Trophy hunting impacts on Kashmir Markhor
and changing the negative perception of local
communities about wildlife in Chitral District,
Pakistan. Mammal Tales #20, In: Zoo’s Print
35(10): 12–14.
Ali, H., M.M. Sha, H. Khan,
M. Shah & M. Khan (2015).
Socio-economic benets of
community based trophy hunting
programs. Environmental economics
6(1): 9-17.
Baig, M.B. & F.S. Al-Subaiee
(2009). Biodiversity in Pakistan: key
issues. Biodiversity 10(4): 20–29.
Khan, H. & S.U. Baig (2020).
Biodiversity conservation in the
Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayan
mountain region of northern
Pakistan: Overview of big mammal
protection. Journal of Mountain
Science 17: 1360–1373. https://doi.
Michel, S. & T.R. Michel
(2015). Capra falconeri (errata
version published in 2016). The IUCN
Red List of Threatened Species 2015:
e.T3787A97218336. https://dx.doi.
T3787A82028427.en. Downloaded
on 03August 2020.
Wildlife Department Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa (2010). Markhor
Conservation Plan for Tooshi Shasha
Conservancy Reports, pp. 14–45.
bridge. Besides these
described projects, many
more are being carried
out. In a nutshell, trophy
hunting as a conservation
tool has proved a success
story here in revival of
the overall wildlife, as it is
evident from an increase
in the numbers of markhor
each year in census reports
and physical sightings from
roadside validate this claim.
Furthermore, ecologically
this economic incentive
has not only beneted
Markhor but the entire
wildlife, including carnivores
has been protected as
evident from the lming
of Himalayan Lynx for
the rst time from these
© Abdullah Khan
Map depicting Markhor trophy hunting conservancies in Chitral
District, Northern Pakistan
... These PAs include the CGNP and the two conservancies, TSC and GGC. The habitats in these areas are largely protected from human activities by the government in coordination with the local communities [33], thereby providing a refuge of 1878.75 km 2 for the markhor. Our model further revealed that small patches of highly suitable habitat exist in Dir and Swat districts, south of Chitral district. ...
... Schaller and Khan [67] once reported a higher presence of markhor with huge numbers (n = 1500) in the aforementioned habitats (Kalam, Swat Division) in comparison with the current core zones of markhor, i.e., CGNP and its buffers (n = 500-600). However, in recent decades, the shift in markhor presences reported in the current study and numbers (n = 2700) [33] in protected areas clearly indicates that strong protection levels have played a key role in increasing and stabilizing markhor populations. Areas with higher elevations (≥4000 m a.s.l) were predicted as unsuitable habitats in the current study. ...
Full-text available
Natural wild habitats are either destroyed or shrunk due to human interventions. Therefore, habitat evaluation is crucial for managing wildlife populations and designing robust conservation strategies. Species presence data and geographic information system (GIS) coupled with groundbreaking powerful statistical techniques have made such assessments possible. We used maximum entropy modeling (MaxEnt) to identify suitable habitats for Kashmir markhor (Capra falconeri cashmeriensis) in Malakand Division, Pakistan. MaxEnt was applied to 169 markhor sighting points and topographical and current bioclimatic variables. Results showed that the accuracy of the MaxEnt model was good (AUC = 0.889). Of the total area studied (8407.09 km2), 22.35% (1878.75 km2) was highly suitable and 32.63% (2743.53 km2) was moderately suitable for markhor. Protected areas including Chitral Gol National Park (CGNP), Tooshi-Sasha Conservancy (TSC), and Gehrait-Golain Conservancy (GGC) and their buffers were included in highly suitable habitats. MaxEnt also predicted highly suitable habitats in Kumrat and Kalam valleys. We believe that moderately suitable habitats identified in Jinjeret, Ursoon, Birir valley, and Bumborait valley have the potential to host markhor populations. Based on the results obtained in the current study, we strongly recommend expanding the current protected areas (PAs) network in the study area and strengthening it by inclusive conservation management with local communities.
Full-text available
The high economic costs of human–wildlife conflicts (HWC) hinder long-term conservation successes, especially in developing countries. We investigated HWC by interviewing 498 respondents from 42 villages in Nowshera district, Pakistan. According to respondents, six species—the common leopard (Panthera pardus), grey wolf (Canis lupus), golden jackal (Canis aureus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica), and wild boar (Sus scrofa)—were involved in livestock predation and crop-raiding. Livestock predation (N = 670) translated into a total annual economic loss of USD 48,490 across the 42 villages, with the highest economic loss of USD 57.1/household/year attributed to the golden jackal. Crop damage by wild boar and porcupine incurred a total annual economic loss of USD 18,000. Results further showed that livestock predation was highly affected by location, prey type, prey age, and herding practices, while cereals and vegetables were preferred crops for wild boar and Indian porcupine. The grey wolf was declared as the most dangerous carnivore, followed by the golden jackal and common leopard. Negative attitude about golden jackal and wild boar prevails among 90% of the respondents of the study area. We strongly assume that the abundance of apex predators can control the economic impacts of meso-carnivores and wild boar on the community’s livelihood. Keeping relatively smaller herds may reduce carnivore attacks and educating the populous and compensation can minimise negative perceptions of HWC. To reduce HWC in the study area, there should be an incessant and timely coordination between wildlife officials and the local community
Full-text available
The high mountains of northern Pakistan comprise the western section of the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayas (HKH) region of South and Central Asia. They are home to some rare and endangered species of fauna and flora which form an important link in the biodiversity of the region as a whole. Increasing population and changing life styles in recent decades have brought unprecedented pressures on the biodiversity of this region. Along with the government, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and communities have a crucial role to play in conserving biodiversity. In this regard, a number of undertakings to protect depleting species have been initiated by governmental and non-governmental entities. These efforts are commendable and some have produced positive results, but many exist on a small scale and, with a few exceptions, are not self-sustaining. This paper reports on some of these initiatives of conserving big mammal species like the Astor markhor, Blue sheep, Himalayan brown bear, Himalayan ibex and Snow leopard, with the aim of collating and highlighting them, identifying gaps in conservation and suggesting a way forward so as to promote conservation projects on a larger and more sustainable basis.
  • M B F S Baig
  • Al-Subaiee
Baig, M.B. & F.S. Al-Subaiee (2009). Biodiversity in Pakistan: key issues. Biodiversity 10(4): 20-29.
Capra falconeri (errata version
  • S T R Michel
  • Michel
Michel, S. & T.R. Michel (2015). Capra falconeri (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T3787A97218336. https://dx.doi. org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.20154.RLTS. T3787A82028427.en. Downloaded on 03August 2020.