The wildlife department’s survey report shows that the number of markhors was 2,868 in 2019 but in 2020, it reduced to 2,000. In 2018, the markhor population in Chitral was 2692 which had increased to 2,868 in 2020.
The Member National Assembly (MNA) from Chitral, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, alleged that the KP government has failed to control the illegal hunting of the endanger animal. He questioned the government’s ability to deliver, alleging that despite spending millions of fund, the wildlife department has failed to protect the national animal.
Chitrali said that like other rare animals, markhors are the beauty of the mountains. He stressed that for their survival, it is essential to maintain natural environment. The local population also has an important role along with the concerned department for the protection of wildlife, Chitrali urged. However, the wildlife department said that this year, the survey could not be completed due to heavy snowfall. The department maintained that there was a complete ban on Markhor hunting.
Many varieties of Markhor are found in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Balochistan. The Astor Markhor, the Kashmiri Markhor, Suleiman Markhor and Chilton Markhor are notable among the species found in Pakistan. Apart from Pakistan, the rare specie is also found in Afghanistan, India, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
According to wildlife experts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the illegal hunting in the 1980s had posed serious threats to its extinction. Therefore, the trophy hunting scheme was launched in partnership with the government and international wildlife conservation organisations. The main purpose of the scheme was to stop Markhor hunting by involving the local population for the protection of this rare animal.
In 2017, the wildlife department had claimed that due to the trophy hunting, the number of Markhors has increased to 3000 in Chitral as 80% of earning from the trophy hunting was provided to the local communities. According to foreign wildlife organizations, Markhor production in Pakistan has increased by 20% in the past few years.
The markhor has been placed in the endangered species category in Pakistan because its number around the world is dwindling. The officials said that if it was removed from this category, there would be pressure on the government to issue more hunting permits. A total of 12 markhor hunting permits are issued in Pakistan annually. Four are issued in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan.