Markhor

Markhor

Screw horn (Pakistan)

Kingdom
Phylum
Subphylum
Class
Order
Family
Subfamily
Genus
SPECIES
Capra falconeri
Population size
5,754
Life Span
10-13 yrs
TOP SPEED
17 km/h
WEIGHT
32-110 kg
HEIGHT
65-115 cm
LENGTH
132-186 cm

The markhor is a large species of wild goat native to Central Asia. Its coat is of a grizzled, light brown to black color, and is smooth and short in summer; it grows longer and thicker in winter. The fur of the lower legs is black and white. Males have longer hair on the chin, throat, chest, and shanks. Females are redder in color, with shorter hair, a short black beard, and are maneless. Both sexes have tightly curled, corkscrew-like horns, which close together at the head but spread upwards toward the tips.

Di

Diurnal

He

Herbivore

Fo

Folivore

Gr

Graminivore

Te

Terrestrial

Pr

Precocial

Gr

Grazing

Br

Browsing

Zo

Zoochory

Te

Territorial

Co

Congregatory

Vi

Viviparous

Po

Polygyny

So

Social

Do

Dominance hierarchy

He

Herding

Al

Altitudinal Migrant

M

starts with

Be

Best Horns
(collection)

Distribution

Geography

Markhor are found in Central Asia, Karakoram, and the Himalayas. They occur in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (Jammu-Kashmir), Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Markhor are adapted to mountainous terrain with steep cliffs; they typically inhabit open woodlands, scrublands, and forests made up primarily of oaks, pines, and junipers.

Markhor habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Markhor are diurnal animals and are mainly active in the early morning and late afternoon. Their diets shift seasonally: in the spring and summer periods, they graze, but turn to browsing in winter, sometimes standing on their hind legs to reach high branches. Markhor live in flocks that usually consist of nine animals. These flocks are composed of adult females and their young. Adult males are largely solitary. Adult females and kids comprise most of the markhor population. These majestic animals have many predators and that's why possess keen eyesight and a strong sense of smell to detect nearby predators. Markhor are very aware of their surroundings and are on high alert for predators. In exposed areas, they are quick to spot and flee from predators. Their alarm call closely resembles the bleating of domestic goats. Early in the season the males and females may be found together on the open grassy patches and clear slopes in the forest. During the summer, the males remain in the forest, while the females generally climb to the highest rocky ridges above.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Markhor are herbivores (folivores, graminivores). They feed on various grasses, leaves, twigs, and shrubs.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
REPRODUCTION SEASON
winter
PREGNANCY DURATION
135-170 days
BABY CARRYING
1-2 kids
INDEPENDENT AGE
6 months
FEMALE NAME
doe, nanny
MALE NAME
buck, billy
BABY NAME
kid, billy

Markhor exhibit a polygynous mating system in which males mate with multiple females every single breeding season. They mate in winter, during which the males fight each other by lunging, locking horns, and attempting to push each other off balance. The gestation period lasts 135-170 days and usually results in the birth of one or two kids, though rarely three. The young are born precocial (fully developed) and are able to walk soon after birth. Mothers nurse and protect their kids within 6 months and after that, they become more independent. Young male and female markhor become reproductively mature at 18 to 36 months of age.

Population

Population threats

Poaching, with its indirect impacts as disturbance, increasing fleeing distances and resulting reduction of effective habitat size, is by far the most important factor threatening the survival of the markhor population. Poaching causes fragmentation of the population. into small islands where the remaining subpopulations are prone to extinction. The markhor is a valued trophy hunting prize for its incredibly rare spiral horns which became a threat to their species. Markhor are potential prey for snow leopards, brown bears, lynx, jackals, and golden eagles. While not directly causing their endangerment, the already small population of markhor is further threatened by their predation.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the markhor is 5,754 mature individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are increasing.

Ecological niche

Markhor help spread seeds of the wild grasses that compose their diet. They are also important prey for large predators including Golden eagles, Himalayan lynx, leopard cats, snow leopards, wolves, and black bears.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan, where it is also known as the Screw horn or "screw-horned goat".
  • The name "markhor" is thought to be derived from Persian, where "mâr" is "snake, serpent" and the suffix khor means "-eater"; this is interpreted to represent the animal's alleged ability to kill snakes or as a reference to its corkscrew-like horns, which are somewhat reminiscent of coiling snakes.
  • In folklore the markhor is known to kill, or literally, eat serpents (a reputation shared by the Garuda from the Indian epic Mahabharata). Thereafter, while chewing the cud, a foam-like substance comes out of its mouth which drops on the ground and dries. This foam-like substance is sought after by the local people, who believe it is useful in extracting the poison from snakebites.

References

1. Markhor on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markhor
2. Markhor on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/3787/97218336

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About