Flare-horned markhor (Capra falconeri falconeri)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 0925489
In Northern Pakistan, where the Himalayan mountains, the Karakorams, and the Hindu Kush collide, some of the world's rarest wildlife (including markhor, snow leopards, Asiatic black bears, urial sheep, monal pheasants and western tragopans) co-exist with some of the country's poorest and most marginalized human communities. With long and deep presence in the Northern Areas, and indeed until very recently as the only nongovernmental organization of any kind working in Pakistan's Diamer District (Tribal Areas), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) aims to develop local capacity to combat deforestation and over-hunting by continuing to facilitate creation of community resource committees in this ethnically diverse region. We do this by training wildlife rangers (chosen from local communities) to continue the markhor field surveys, monitoring, and enforcement efforts begun by Mayoor Khan in 2002. Our primary goals are to develop the ability of local communities to manage markhor and other wildlife in a sustainable manner that benefits them and the natural resources upon which they directly and utterly depend.
The magnificent markhor (Capra falconeri), one of the largest members of the Caprinae or goat family, is under threat of extinction across its range, which is largely within Pakistan’s borders. Markhor are important to the landscape, both as one of few wild prey items for large carnivores such as the wolf and snow leopard – and as a cultural icon to the people of the Northern Areas in Pakistan. All three markhor subspecies are listed as either Endangered or Critically Endangered, threatened by intense hunting pressure (now with modern weapons), warfare, deforestation, and increasing competition from domestic goats and sheep. Despite international and countrywide protection, flare-horned markhor populations may have dropped by half within the last 25 years. Surviving populations are small, highly fragmented, and isolated from one another. In response, WCS developed a multi-year Northern Areas Conservation Program (NACP) to help protect the markhor and its habitat – one of the last extensive arid conifer forest ecosystems in the Western Himalayas, which has been designated as a Global 200 Ecoregion by the World Wildlife Fund, as an Endemic Bird Area of Urgent Biological Importance by Birdlife International, and which is a center for floral endemism. Until very recently, WCS has been the only nongovernmental organization (NGO) of any kind operating in Pakistan’s Diamer District of the Northern Areas.
The goal of the current study is to conserve the endangered flare-horned markhor, as well as other threatened wildlife (including Ladakh urial, snow leopard, and Asiatic black bear) in northern Pakistan, augmenting the gradual upward population numbers recently reported. The following objectives support this goal:
· Conduct wildlife surveys and monitor the flare-horned markhor and other threatened wildlife.
· Hire and train local wildlife rangers to monitor and protect wildlife
(up to 34 rangers in 14 communities within one year of receipt of a grant).
· Continue laying the groundwork to establish a permanent community-based monitoring program to assess trends in markhor populations to ensure recovery of the species.
· Build capacity and facilitate community-based management of natural resources.
Project 0925489 location - Pakistan, Asia