Pakistan Celebrates First ‘International Day Of The Markhor’

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ISLAMABAD: Today, Pakistan and the world celebrated the first-ever ‘International Day of the Markhor,’ Pakistan’s iconic national animal.

On May 2 this year, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Pakistan and eight other countries, proclaiming May 24 as the International Day of the Markhor. This day recognizes the importance of preserving the Markhor, which was categorised as “near threatened” in 2014, and its natural habitat. The Markhor plays a crucial role in the ecosystem.

“Markhors have long been Pakistan’s national treasure. Today, they have also become the world’s treasure,” said Mr. Mohamed Yahya, the UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan. “Not only do Markhors play a crucial role in the ecosystem, but they offer a significant opportunity to bolster the economy, foster conservation efforts, and promote sustainable tourism and economic growth, in line with the Government’s ‘Living Indus’ initiative, which the United Nations supports.”

The Markhor population in Pakistan has been increasing over the past ten years, now reaching between 3,500 and 5,000 individuals thanks to proactive conservation programs and community engagement. However, their numbers are declining globally, with fewer than 6,000 mature individuals remaining.

Famous for its long corkscrew-shaped horns, this iconic and ecologically significant species can be found across the mountainous regions of Central and South Asia, including in Pakistan. The greatest threats to its survival are habitat loss, illegal hunting (including poaching), and climate change.

A skilled climber, the Markhor can traverse slanted, almost vertical mountainous terrain and can be found between 600 and 3,500 meters in elevation.

The resolution invites people all over the world to celebrate this day and encourages conservation efforts, while highlighting the importance of continued international and regional cooperation.

Pakistan’s ‘Living Indus’ initiative, which aims to protect and restore the environment, was designated a ‘World Restoration Flagship’ project by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in February this year. It is led by the Government of Pakistan and supported by the United Nations.

 

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