The Markhor (Capra falconeri) is a bovid mammal closely related to the Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus)--the progenitor of the Domestic Goat--and several species of ibex. Males weigh around twice as much as females. Both sexes have horns, but those of males are much larger and more elaborate. The horns are highly variable in form, even within a population. In males, shaggy hair develops on the front of the animal and the long hair on the cheeks is continuous with the long hair forming the beard (females also develop a small beard).
Markhors are found in South and Central Asia at 600 to 3600 m above sea level (in the Himalayas they occur from around 1700 to 3600 m, but more southern populations occur at lower elevations). They are found in open forested or shrubby areas. Markhors are reputed to be the most agile climbers of all the Asian Capra. Major wild predators are Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) and Snow Leopards (Panthera uncia). Moving and feeding are more common in the morning and late afternoon.
The status of most Markhor populations is poorly known, but this is an endangered species. It is threatened by commercial and subsistence hunting as well as habitat degradation and fragmentation. Efforts to encourage protection of Markhors by local communities as part of regulated trophy hunting programs have seen some success in helping populations to recover.
- Valdez, R. 2011. Markhor (Capra falconeri). Pp.719-720 in: Wilson, D.E. and Mittermeier, R.A., eds. Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Volume 2. Hoofed Mammals. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.