New Delhi: Pakistan`s national animal `Markhor`, a majestic wild goat species, has made a remarkable comeback in that country.
"Surveys show the endangered markhor are rebounding in northern Pakistan," according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The society said that the community surveys led by it have revealed that Markhor populations in northern Pakistan`s Kargah region in Gilgit-Baltistan have increased from a low of approximately 40-50 individuals in 1991 to roughly 300 this year.
"These community surveys suggest that the total Markhor population where WCS works in Gilgit-Baltistan may now be as high as 1,500 animals, a dramatic increase since the last government estimate of less than 1,000 in 1999," it says.
One of its distinct species, the Kashmir Markhor, is found only in India`s Jammu and Kashmir. It is threatened by illegal hunting and habitat destruction.
Markhor are important prey species for large carnivores such as wolves and snow leopards. They have been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1994.
A survey conducted by the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Department last year had confirmed the presence of a population of the endangered Kashmir markhor in Poonch.
Markhor, the world`s largest goat, is a Schedule I species in the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Wildlife Protection Act, J&K.
"With a global population of less than 2,500 mature individuals, it is found in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan," says the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), a non-profit conservation organisation, about the species in general.
The Kashmir Markhor, also known as flare-horned markhor, is present only in Jammu and Kashmir," says the WTI.