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

Authors:
Zoo’s Print Vol. 35 | No. 10 12
#20
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
consideration.
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
infrastructure
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,
Pakistan
Zoo’s Print Vol. 35 | No. 10 13
#20
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
involving
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
#20
21 October 2020
Mammal Tales
Ejaz Rehman1 & Romaan Hayat
Khattak2
1Snow Leopard Foundation, Islamabad Pakistan
2College of Wildlife and Protected Areas, Northeast
Forestry University, Harbin 150040, P.R.China
Emails: 1ejaz@slf.org.pk, 2romaanktk@gmail.com
(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.
References:
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.
org/10.1007/s11629-018-5113-0
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.
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
conservancies.
© 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. ...
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  • 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.