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First-Ever UN International Day of the Markhor 2024 – 24 May

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International Day of the MarkhorThe first-ever United Nations (UN) International Day of the Markhor was observed across the globe on 24th May 2024 to raise awareness and promote the conservation of Markhor (Capra falconeri), an iconic and ecologically significant species, and its natural habitat.

  • The Markhor is the largest of the wild goat species in the world with broad hooves and spiral horns. It is the national animal of Pakistan since 1972.


i.On 2nd May 2024, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution A/RES/78/278 proclaiming 24th May of every year as the International Day of the Markhor.

  • The resolution invited the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to facilitate the observance of the International Day.

ii.The draft resolution was sponsored by Afghanistan, China, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

About Markhor:

i.Markhor is a Persian word meaning “snake-eater” or “snake-killer.” It is also known as the screw horn or “screw-horned goat.”

ii.This species is found across the mountainous regions of Central and South Asia, including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

iii.Markhors are herbivores that eats a variety of grasses in the spring and summer, and leaves, twigs, and shrubs in the fall and winter.

iv.Preserving the Markhor species bolsters the regional economy, fosters conservation efforts, and promotes sustainable tourism and economic growth, which benefits both the ecosystem and local communities.

Conservation Status:

i.It is categorized as “near threatened” (in 2014) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

ii.It has been included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora since 1992.

Threats: Habitat Loss; Illegal Hunting and Poaching and Climate Change

Key Facts:

i.The number of mature markhors in the world is approximately 5,700.

ii.Markhors are known for their long, corkscrew-shaped horns, which can grow up to 63 inches.

iii.It is adapted to mountainous terrains and thrives at elevations between 600 and 3,600 meters. Their habitats include open woodlands, scrublands, and light forests.

Markhor in Pakistan:

The estimated population of Markhor in Pakistan (as of November 2023) is between 3,500 and 5,000 and a majority of them are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan, followed by Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan of Pakistan.

Markhor in India: 

i.In India, Markhors are found exclusively in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). This species is listed in Schedule-I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

ii.Wildlife Trust of India(WTI)’s The Kashmir Markhor Recovery Project aims at improving the population status of the once thought to be-extinct species, the Pirpanjal Markhor.

iii.WTI along with the Department of Wildlife Protection of J&K, and the Indian Army’s Environment and Ecology cell conducted extensive surveys, establishing a scientific baseline for Markhor populations in 2014.

iv.The survey revealed only 2 markhor populations i.e. Kazinag and Pir Panjal totalling approximately 250.