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Animal Info - Markhor

(Other Names: 螺角山羊, マーコール, Schraubenziege)

Capra falconeri

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, Population Estimates, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Age to Maturity, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Early Development, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization, Mortality and Survival, Density and Range)
5. References


Profile

Pictures: Markhor #1 (18 Kb JPEG); Markhor #2 (Huffman 2004)

The markhor is a member of the goat family which may weigh up to 110 kg (240 lb). It has unusual spiraling horns which may be straight or flare outward, depending on the subspecies. The markhor occupies arid cliffside habitats in sparsely wooded mountainous regions at altitudes ranging from 700 m (2300') from November to May up to 4000 m (13,000') in the summer. In the spring and summer, the markhor mainly grazes on tussocks of grass. When these have dried up it browses on leaves and twigs. The markhor forages 8 - 12 hours daily, and it is usually active all day except for several hours in the middle of the day, when it rests and chews its cud. Years ago, herds of markhor with 100 or more animals were common. By the 1970's the average herd size was 9, with some as large as 35 (Schaller 1979).

The range of the markhor has historically extended from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikstan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India (Kashmir). Currently its distribution runs from the mountains north of the Amur Darya River in Turkmenistan, east through Afghanistan and Pakistan, just into the extreme northwestern part of India. Within this area, markhor populations are usually very small (<100 individuals) and isolated from each other. (Shackleton 1997)

The reasons for the markhor's decline include intensive hunting (for trophies, meat and the Asian medicine market), disturbance and loss of habitat due to expanded human settlement, and competition from domestic livestock.


Tidbits

*** The markhor climbs trees in search of nutritious leaves. It can be seen standing on a branch of an oak tree 4 - 6 m (15 - 20') above the ground, calmly munching. (Schaller 1979)

*** Markhor horns are in demand for traditional Asian medicine. In China, horns have reportedly brought up to $US1000 per kg ($2200 per lb). (WCMC/WWF 1997)

*** The markhor is one of the most desired of all hunting trophies, with the record horn length exceeding 1.5 m (60").

*** The name markhor is derived from the Persian mar, a snake, and khor, eating. This name is puzzling, since the markhor is a vegetarian, although it has been known to kill snakes. (Huffman 1999b)

*** Goats such as the markhor are found in the same general areas as various species of sheep. In order to coexist, goats and sheep divide up their habitat so that the goats occupy cliffs and their immediate vicinity, while sheep prefer the plateaus above cliffs and the gently sloping areas below them.


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Markhor Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan. May occur in Turkmenistan(IUCN 2004)

Population Estimates:

[Note: Figures given are for wild populations only.]

History of Distribution:

The range of the markhor has historically extended from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikstan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India (Kashmir). Currently its distribution runs from the mountains north of the Amur Darya River in Turkmenistan, east through Afghanistan and Pakistan, just into the extreme northwestern part of India. Within this area, markhor populations are usually very small (<100 individuals) and isolated from each other. (Shackleton 1997)

Distribution Map (4 Kb GIF) (Huffman 2004)

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The reasons for the markhor's decline include intensive hunting (for trophies, meat and the Asian medicine market), disturbance and loss of habitat due to expanded human settlement, and competition from domestic livestock.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

Females weigh 30 - 40 kg (70 - 90 lb). Males weigh 80 - 110 kg (180 - 240 lb).

Habitat:

The markhor occupies arid cliffside habitats in sparsely wooded mountainous regions at altitudes ranging from 700 m (2300') from November to May up to 4000 m (13,000') in the summer. It avoids deep snow.

The markhor lives in both the Himalaya and Mountains of Central Asia Biodiversity Hotspots (Cons. Intl. 2005) as well as the Middle Asian Mountains Temperate Forests Global 200 Ecoregion. (Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999)

Age to Maturity:

18 - 30 months.

Gestation Period:

135 - 170 days.

Birth Season:

Mating occurs during winter; births occur from late April to early June.

Birth Rate:

1 or 2, rarely 3.

Early Development:

A young markhor is weaned at 5 - 6 months.

Maximum Age:

At least 13 years.

Diet:

The markhor is a grazer and a browser. In the spring and summer it mainly grazes on tussocks of grass. When these have dried up it browses on leaves and twigs, including the leaves of trees such as Pistacia and evergreen oak. When acorns are plentiful It especially enjoys mast.

Behavior:

The markhor forages 8 - 12 hours daily, and it is usually active all day except for several hours in the middle of the day, when it rests and chews its cud.

Social Organization:

Years ago herds of markhor with 100 or more animals, usually consisting of females and young, were common. By the 1970's the average herd size was 9, with some as large as 35 (Schaller 1979). Although some adult males remain with the females throughout the year, most males only join the females during the rut.

Mortality and Survival:

In one study, an average of 1.3 young accompanied each adult female in November, when about 6 months old. A year later only about 0.5 per adult female remained, a reduction of nearly 60% (Schaller 1979).

Density and Range:

Population densities in Pakistan range from 1 - 9 individuals/sq km (2.6 - 23 individuals/sq mi). (Huffman 1999b)


References

Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005, Curry-Lindahl 1972, Huffman 1999b, Huffman 2004, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 1984, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Olson & Dinerstein 1998, Olson & Dinerstein 1999, Oryx 1958, Schaller 1979, Shackleton 1997, WCMC/WWF 1997


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Last modified: May 1, 2005;

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