Origin of the word of markhor
is a long-standing debate. Most claim the name to be derived from Farsi meaning snake eater
. Mar – snake / khor – eater. Since there is no scientific evidence to proof that, the second theory seems to make more sense. It is more likely that markhor is a corruption of Pashtoo words for mar – snake and akhur – horn. Kashmir markhor
populate the Chitral, Dir, Swat and Kohistan districts and Azad-Kashmir province of northern Pakistan
. However, the main concentration of this subspecies is now in the Chitral Gol sanctuary that is only 30 minutes drive from the town of Chitral.
Known also as Pir Punjal, Kashmir markhor
is probably the most publicized markhor of all 5 recognized subspecies therefore is highly sought after. Although population increased remarkably especially in the past decade, government of Pakistan
allocates only four tags annually for this highly desired markhor subspecies which are filled every year.
As with all other species in northern Pakistan
, markhor hunts are done only in several community controlled hunting areas (CHAs) and based on the “Community Based Trophy Hunting Programmes” where 80% of the license fee is turned over to the communities to ensure sustainability of conservation initiatives. Contrary to common belief that it is a tough hunt, Kashmir markhor can be hunted with little effort in some of these conservancy areas. On the other hand, some of the terrain markhor dwells lives up to its reputation.
As a general rule markhor is not a high altitude animal only because of it’s intolerance of snow and cold. Its habitat lies somewhere between 6000-8000 feet (1800-2400meters).They avoid the higher elevations inhabited by Himalayan ibex
but stick to the more precipitous mountain sides. When it is located on such spots or out of shooting range, hunters are required to be patient and wait as the markhor
will frequent a water resource every other day. Most of hunting is done on foot but some driving may be needed.
Means of accommodations for Astor markhor
in these CHAs vary considerably, greatly depending on the distance of the area from Chitral. This can be anywhere from a four star hotel in town to a guest house in one of the villages near the area. In extreme cases when a spike camp is needed, shepherd huts or tent camps can also be utilized.