Markhor

The markhor is one of seven species of wild goat, all of which live in mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. This species lives in certain mountain ranges of Central Asia. As a protection against the cold continental winters, markhors have thick white and grey coats and long shaggy manes covering their necks and shoulders. In summer, markhors lose their winter coats, which are replaced by shorter red-grey coats, and they move higher up the mountains to feed on the rich spring growth.

Females live in small herds, usually comprising about nine individuals, but occasionally up to 100. Males are solitary, only joining the female herds in the mating season. During this time, they fight one another for females, lunging at one another and locking horns.

Male markhors are characterized by their long corkscrew-shaped horns that can reach up to 1.6 m (5.25 ft) in length. Females also have horns, but they rarely grow longer than 25 cm (10 in).

Markhors are sought by trophy hunters and are also killed for their meat and hides. There are three subspecies, the rarest of which numbers only around 700 individuals. The political instability that has plagued some of the countries in the markhor’s range has made it difficult to control illegal poaching.

Distribution: Mountainous areas of central Asian countries, including Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Kashmir.

Habitat: Mountainous areas close to the treeline, rocky areas, dry country and steep meadows.

Food: Grass, leaves and twigs.

Size: 1.4 - 1.8 m (4.75 - 6 ft); 32 - 110 kg (70 - 240 lb).

Maturity: 2.5 years.

Breeding: 1 or 2 young born at a time.

Life span: 12 years.

Status: Endangered.

Gallery of Markhor