The Assiniboine Park Zoo introduced a new young breeding male to its herd of female markhor. Here is some information to introduce you to these wonderfully active and agile wild goats with huge spiraling horns.
- The markhor (as well as the zoo’s Alpine ibex) is a member of the goat family, indigenous to Central Asia. There are three subspecies, of which the Assiniboine Park Zoo exhibits Capra falconeri heptneri
IUCN Status: Endangered
- Population: 2,500 worldwide with no sub-population more than 250
- The reasons for the markhor’s decline include intensive hunting (for trophies, meat and the Asian medicine market), disturbance and loss of habitat due to expanded human settlement, and competition from domestic livestock.
- The range of the markhor has historically extended through the mountainous regions from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India (Kashmir)
Biology and Ecology
Head-Body Length: 140 – 180 cm
Weight: Females weigh 30 – 40 kg+ (70 – 90 lb+). Males weigh 80 – 110 kg (180 – 240 lb)
- The markhor lives on dry mountain cliff-sides at altitudes ranging from 700 m (2300′) from November to May up to 4000 m (13,000′) in the summer.
- It avoids deep snow.
- The markhor occupies arid cliff-side habitats in sparsely wooded mountainous regions at altitudes ranging from 700 m (2300′) from November to May up to 4000 m (13,000′) in the summer.
Reproduction and Lifespan:
- Mating occurs during winter
- Births occur from late April to early June
- Birth Rate: one or two
- They live to at least 13 years
Food in the Wild:
- The markhor is a grazer in the spring and summer where it mainly grazes on tussocks of grass. It turns to browsing when the grasses have dried up, eating leaves and twigs.
- The markhor is a browser and will climb trees in search of nutritious leaves, even as high as 4 – 6 m (15 – 20′) above the ground.
- Markhor horns are in demand for traditional Asian medicine. They are also one of the most desired of all hunting trophies due to length, which can exceed 1.5 m (60″).
- The name markhor is derived from the Persian mar, a snake, and khor, eating. This name is puzzling, since the markhor is a vegetarian, although it has been known to kill snakes.
Zoo Pictures: Markhor
- Nowak, R.M. (1999) Walker’s Mammals of the World. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
- IUCN Redlist
Compiled by Scott Gray