Pakistan’s national animal facing extinction

Summan Ismail
In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches.
(Paul R. Ehrlich )
Pakistan’s national animal, only a few thousand of which live in the wild today. Markhor is facing extinction due to intensive hunting (for trophies, meat, and the Asian medicine market), disturbance and loss of habitat due to increased human settlement, and competition from domestic livestock.
Historically, the Markhor ranged from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India (Kashmir). Its current range extends from Turkmenistan’s mountains north of the Amur Darya River east through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the far northwestern section of India.
Suleiman Markhor is Pakistan’s national animal and lives in the harsh Suleiman Mountains range near Khilafat Mountain, Ziarat.
Among goats, the Markhor can weigh as much as 110 kg (240 lb.) depending on the subspecies, the horns of this species may be spiraling outward or straight, with some being more prominent. However, they are not uniform. At altitudes between 700 m (2300′) and 400 mm (13,000′), the Markhor inhabits dry Cliffside habitats in mountainous regions with low wood cover from November to May.
The Markhor’s primary diet of grass tussocks is present during the spring and summer seasons. The organism crawls on leaves and twigs after being dried up. The Markhor feeds itself every day and eats for 8 to 12 hours, usually staying active throughout the day except during midday when it takes a break and chews its cud. Herds of Markhor with over 100 animals were common in the past. The 1970s saw a herd size of around 9, with some groups reaching up to 35.
Not only is hunting a major cause of the endangerment of all unique and rare animals, but other environmental violating factors such as deforestation, population expansion, and pollution also play an important role in disrupting the ecosystem and endangering the lives of the rare animals.
Another unusual animal on the verge of extinction is the Balochistan Forest Dormouse. Factors such as deforestation and other environmental challenges are contributing to its population decline. Not only are terrestrial animals threatened, but other mammals and marine animals also fear extinction. The list of endangered species includes Sawfish, Whale Sharks, Silky Sharks, Oceanic whitetip sharks, Thresher sharks, Hammerhead sharks, Mobula rays, Porpoises and Sea Turtles. Mobula rays and Sawfish are seriously threatened with extinction.
The government must take measures to safeguard the rare animals before it becomes too late. It must devise laws that not only prohibit hunting but also strive to safeguard birds and marine life. The conservation of Markhors prompted the introduction of trophy hunting in 1980. It was reported to have led to a sudden surge in the number of the species. From now on, there is a strong demand for implementing broader measures to improve the declining ecosystem, such as an awareness campaign for local populations or introducing strict hunting permits to tourists. The illegal trade of precious and exotic animals should be strictly prohibited.

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