A herd of Turkmenian Flare-horned Markhor (Capra falconeri hepterni) roams the rocky terrain in their expansive habitat along the Wild Asia Monorail at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society) Bronx Zoo.
The herd consists of eleven males (easily identified by their huge spiraled horns and distinct coats), ten females (which are smaller than the males and have much shorter horns), and their offspring, which includes eight kids born this year.
The Markhor is a unique species of goat found in the mountains of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. They inhabit upper elevations, with vegetation as their food source. They are skilled climbers and will scale steep rocky terrain to escape predators such as snow leopards and wolves.
The Bronx Zoo’s Markhor live with a herd of Himalayan Tahr, another species of Asiatic mountain goat found in areas of China, Tibet, Nepal, and northern India.
Wild Markhor are threatened by human activity in the ranges where they live. Their impressive twisted horns and thick fur make them a target for trophy hunters and poachers. They are also susceptible to habitat loss from expansion of land used for domestic livestock, and from disease spread from the growing livestock population.
With support from US Ambassador Fund, Columbus Zoo Conservation Fund, and other supporters, WCS has been working to save wild Markhor in the mountains of northern Pakistan since 1997. Now working with 65 communities, WCS has seen a 70 percent increase in Markhor populations in the last decade, with estimates placed at 1,700 wild Markhor in this landscape—a significant proportion of the global population of this endangered mountain goat.
The WCS Pakistan Program’s recovery of Markhor in Pakistan has helped lead to the recent, nearly unprecedented two-stage down-listing of Markhor by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from an “Endangered” classification, passing the status of “Vulnerable”, to now being known as “Near Threatened”.
More great pics, below the fold!