“The untimely death of the four-year-old markhor is not less than a shock for us and we do mourn this as it means a loss of Rs10 million for the local community who devotedly strive for its conservation,” said Fazlur Rahman, the president of a conservancy, in Chitral.
Tears were visible in his eyes due to grief as the markhor had died of an ailment after they rescued it from an inaccessible cliff in the local pasture and took it to the veterinary hospital. It all happened about a month ago and around a 100 community workers had also reached the hospital to get firsthand knowledge about treatment and convalescing of the markhor.
All this activism of the villagers to save the wild goat was due to the fact that they owned it and this sense of ownership had been inculcated in them by the wildlife department by giving them 80 per cent of the income obtained from the trophy hunting.
It is due to the strong bonds of community-based conservation that the impressive animal with iconic corkscrew horns known as Kashmir markhor is no more an endangered species in Chitral. The phenomenal population growth of markhor, the national animal of Pakistan, can be attributed to the community-based conservation strategy which has proved fruitful in the upkeep of other endangered and rare wildlife species.
The population of markhor had dropped to less than a hundred in Chitral in 1980s and it faced annihilation due to the unchecked poaching despite the presence of a full-fledged department for its preservation. Divisional forest officer of wildlife, Chitral, Imtiaz Hussain recalls that in Chitral the number of markhor did not cross the figure of 100 during 80s when he carried out the survey of the animal and it had filled the conservationists with the apprehension of its extinction.