Introduction

The chapter presents a concise and informative introduction of the most distinctive member of the Caprinae family, the Markhor.

Wild and Free

Markhors are huge goats that dwell on mountains between 600 and 3500 metres high. Their name is derived from two Persian words: mar, which means snake, and khor, which means eating. The name is particularly odd because these goats are vegetarians, but their screw horns resemble the winding body of a snake, therefore the name. They can be found in the wooded highlands of Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan. They’re located in India in the Pir Panjal range, which runs between Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

In the summer, their grizzled light brown to black coat is smooth and short, but in the winter, it gets longer and thicker. The maneless females are redder in colour with shorter hair and a small black beard, while the males have abundant hair on the chin, throat, chest, and shanks.

The breeding season is in the winter, and the gestation period lasts between 135 and 170 days, resulting in the delivery of one or two children, seldom three. Grass and leaves make up their herbivorous diet. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has categorized the Markhor as an endangered species, with only about 2000 to 4000 Markhors left in the wild.

Conclusion

The Markhor is a wild species that is on the verge of extinction. Hunting pressure, human warfare, and increased disturbance and competition from domestic goats and sheep are also threats. The flare-horned Markhor population is estimated to have been halved in the last 25 years, despite international and national protection. They must be conserved; otherwise, we will lose a valuable wildlife resource.