The markhor is the national animal of Pakistan. It was one of the 72 animals featured on the WWF Conservation Coin Collection in 1976. Markhor marionettes are used in the Afghan puppet shows known as buz-baz.
The markhor, also known as the screw horn goat, is a large species of wild goat that is found in northeastern Afghanistan, northern and central Pakistan, southern Tajikistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and in the Himalayas.
Markhor is a wild goat. It is the only goat, among its relatives, that has adapted to the rugged and steep mountains of northern Pakistan.By
Markhor is a wild goat. It is the only goat, among its relatives, that has adapted to the rugged and steep mountains of northern Pakistan, some of which can reach the height of 4,000–12,000 feet.
The name “Markhor” is a combination of two Persian and Pashto words: “Mar” means snake and “khor” means eater. Due to its long, curled up, snake-like horns people believe that this wild ungulate is a snake eater or killer.
In most countries, national symbols are selected keeping in mind their maximum representation. Which could be why Markhor was honoured as our national animal. Its habitat covers Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Azad Kashmir.
There are several sub-species of Markhor in the country, categorized based on their horn’s shape and twisting pattern. One is the Afghan or Badakhshan Markhor, then there is the Suleiman or Balochistan Markhor. These species are further categorized into the Astor Markhor and Kashmir or Pir-Panjal Markhor, which have flare horns.
The widest spread species is the Kashmir Markhor. It has a significant population. An adult male of this species weighs 80 – 110 kg heavier as compared to other breeds of Markhor, and stands 39 – 41 inches tall.
As for the appearance, the males have a black beard while females have small chin tufts. In winters their coat hair grows long, while in the summer it sheds wool and the long hair by rubbing its body against rocks.