Wildlife of Pakistan


 Mammals

( Ungulates )

Wild Goats and Sheep


 

Markhor

( Capra Falconeri )

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: www.SAMWONLINE.com

 

Local name: Markhor (Urdu)

4 Subspecies:

Flared horned Markhor:
  • C. f. cashmirensis (Pir Panjal or Kashmir markhor),
  • C. f. falconeri (Astor markhor)

    Straight horned Markhor:

  • C. f. jerdoni (Suleiman or straight-horned markhor)
  • C. f. megaceros (Kabul or Kabal markhor)

Description and Biology:

Size:

Body Length: 132-186 cm / 4.4-6.2 ft.

Shoulder Height: 65-115 cm / 2.1-3.8 ft.

Tail Length: 8-20 cm / 3.2-8 in.

Weight: 32-110 kg / 70-242 lb.

Description: The most distinctively-horned member of the genus Capra, the markhor was officially described in 1839 by Wagner. In Pakistan 4 distinct subspecies are found. These are the Kashmir Markhor (C. f. cashmirensis) , Astor Markhor (C. f. falconeri ), The Kabul Markhor ( C. f. megaceros) and The Suleiman Markhor (C. f. jerdoni ). These are differentiated mainly by the shape of their horns. The Kashmir and Astor Markhor have flared spiral horns, while the Suleiman and Kabul Markhor have straight spiral horns. The grizzled light brown to black coat is smooth and short in summer, growing longer and thicker in winter. Males have long hair on the chin, throat, chest, and shanks, while females have smaller fringes. The lower legs have a black and white pattern. The tightly curled, corkscrew-like horns are present in both sexes,starting close together at the head, but spreading towards the tips. In males, they can grow up to 160 cm /64 inches long, and up to 25 cm / 10 inches in females.

Reproduction: Gestation Period: 135-170 days. Young per Birth: 1 or 2, rarely 3. Mating occurs during winter, with the subsequent births occuring from late April to early June. Sexual Maturity: At 18-30 months.

Social Behavior: The markhor is mainly active in the early morning and late afternoon. During the spring and summer months it is a grazer, while in the winter it turns to browse for nourishment. Markhor often stand on their hind legs in order to reach high vegetation. Population densities in Pakistan range from 1-9 animals per square kilometer. During the rut males fight for breeding rights. These competitions involve lunging and locking the horns, followed by the combatants twisting and pushing in an attempt to make the other lose his balance. The markhor's alarm call resembles the nasal "a" populalarized by the common domestic goat. Females and young live in herds of around 9 animals, adult males are usually solitary.

Diet: Grasses, leaves. The name markhor is derived from the Persian mar, a snake, and khor, eating. This is a very peculiar name, as they are vegetarians, though they have been known to kill snakes. (all above information from "The Ultimate Ungulate Page" by Brent Huffman, WWF/WCMC and "Mammals of Pakistan," T.J Roberts).

Habitat and Distribution:

The Markhor mainly inhabits the sparsely wooded mountainous regions in Northern and Western Pakistan, at an elevation of 600-3,600 m / 1,900-11,500 ft. The total world population is mainly found in Pakistan. Today, Markhor are present in around 20 of Pakistan's protected areas. In the northern mountanious regions is found the Kashmir and Astor Markhor. The Kashmir Markhor (C. f. cashmirensis ) is mainly confined to Chitral Gol National Park and presents the biggest population in Pakistan. Poaching has been successfully controlled and now there are over 500 Markhor in Chitral Gol National Park. The Kashmir Markhor is also found in areas of Gilgit and Azad Kashmir. The Astor Markhor (C. f. falconeri) is mainly confined to the higher hill ranges of Gilgit, Hunza and Nanga Parbat. The only good population is in the Kargah Nullah and Naltar, near Gilgit. The Kargah Nullah might have a total population of 50 Markhors. Current population estimates are less than 2,500 to 3,000 for the flared horned markhor in Pakistan (Hess et al. 1997).

Further south in the higher hill ranges of N.W.F.P and Baluchistan are found the Kabul and Sulaiman Markhor. Both these subspecies have straight spiral horns. The Kabul Markhor is critically endangered and is mainly confined to some hills around Peshawar and the border with Afghanistan. The population is mainly in the low 100s. The Sulaiman Markhor is confined to the Sulaiman hill range in Baluchistan. The Torghar Reserve (an area of approximately 1,500 square kilometers (sq. km.)) is privately owned by Sardar Naseer Tareen, and contains the main population of the Sulaiman Markhor. Results of field surveys conducted in 1985, 1994 and 1997 indicate that the Torghar Hills population of straight-horned markhor has increased substantially since the mid-1980s when fewer than 100 animals were thought to be present. In 1994 the markhor population was estimated to be approximately 700 animals (Johnson 1997), and in 1997 the population was estimated to be approximately 1,300 animals (Frisina et al. 1998). This population increase has been due to a virtual elimination of unauthorized hunting that has been accomplished through a private conservation initiative, the Torghar Conservation Project (the Project), which was started in 1985. This subspecies is also found around the hill ranges of Quetta and Ziarat.

The Markhor is a highly-valued trophy species. A single trophy license is sold for as much as $18, 000. Recently, the Pakistani Government has started issuing 2-3 licenses each year for trophy hunting. Money from this trophy hunting goes for the welfare of the local community. Despite this illegal hunting goes unchecked. The decade long war and civil war in Afghanistan has resulted in the influx of sophisticated weapons in Pakistan. Abundance of weapons available under these circumstances has led to many populations being hunted to extinction or near extinction. Because the cliffs the species inhabits are scattered throughout its range, the Markhor has probably always had a discontinuous distribution. As populations are exterminated or severely reduced by man, there is little chance of these areas being recolonised by other Markhor. The populations become ever more scattered and diminished. In parts of their range the Markhor also face competition from domestic goats and other livestock for limited food supplies. Much of the region where they live has been degraded by overgrazing, leading to a serious risk of erosion. There is also the possibility that the Markhor will hybridise with feral goats, leading to dilution of stock and the loss of pure-bred populations of the species.

 

 Himalayan or Siberian Ibex

( Capra Ibex Sibirica )

  

PHOTO CREDIT: Feng Gang

 

Local name: unknown (Urdu)

Description and Biology:

Size:

Shoulder Height: 95cm-101.7cm

Weight: 85-88 kg / 188-193 lb.

Description: The Ibex are somewhat heavy bodied and thick set even when compared to the other wild goat species, and have short sturdy legs. Mature males have a much paler body colouring with predominantly white or creamy hairs on the flank and rump when in winter coat. Females and young males are a reddish-tan or almost a golden colour in summer coat with a greyer-brown appearance in winter, due to an admixture of white hairs. Older males have a rich chocolate-brown colour in summer with circular patches of yellowish-white hair in the mid-dorsal and rump regions. The winter coat is dense thick and whoolly and cracks like the fleece of domestic seep. The underwool of the Ibex, has long been prized for producing the softest and most luxurious quality of wool called "Pashm". In both sexes there is a thick woolly beard. Both sexes have a mid dorsal dark brown stripe running from the shoulder to the tip of the tail. The Himalayan Ibex can be seperated from the Alpine population by the horn shape which, in adult males, grows much longer, curving round to form three-quarters of a complete arc and tapering to relatively slender points. The horns of an adult male are large and impressive despite the bulk of the animal and measure average 101.6cm (40 in). Unlike other wild goats there is no distinct white carpal patch on the fore-leg.

Reproduction: Gestation Period: 155 to 170 days. Young per Birth: 1, but twins are also common. The young are born from May or early June. Weaning: Between four and five months of age. Life span:10-12 years.

Social Behavior: The Himalayan Ibex is gregarious like all wild goats. Young males, females and their followers normally associate in small herds varying from seven or eight upto thirty individuals. Feeding activity appears to be confined largely to early morning and late afternoon even in fairly remote regions.

Diet: Winter feeding conditions are harsh due to heavy rainfall and Ibex have to dig for grasses, bushes, mosses (all above information from "The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts).

Habitat and Distribution:

Confined to the relatively arid mountain ranges of the inner-Himalayas, living well above the tree line only in the higher more precipitous regions. They occur from about 3,660m to over 5,000m in Pakistan, but are sometimes seen crossing valleys below 2,135m. The Himalayan Ibex is widespread in the higher mountain ranges of Baltistan in Karakoram Range, the Harmosh Range, and the Deosai. They are considered plentiful in Khunjerab National Park, Gilgit, Yasin and Hunza. Wegge (1998), who surveyed the Khunjerab National Park for IUCN, estimated the total population of ibex within the area to be more than 2,000 animals, which works out at about one animal per sq. km. Himalayan Ibex are also found in Northern Chitral. Small populations are also found in Chilas and the slopes of Malika Parbat in Hazara. Some are also found in Azad Kashmir. Baltistan and Hunza are undoubtly the strongholds of the Himalayan Ibex in the region today. The survival of the Himalayan Ibex is not so threatened in Pakistan largely due to the inaccessibility of its habit provided by the very extensive concentration of high mountain ranges where it lives . (all above information from "The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts).
 

  

Sind Wild Goat or Persian Pasang
( Capra Hircus Aegagrus )

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Sindh Wildlife Department

 

Local name: Sarah (Sindhi: Sind)

Description and Biology:

Size:

Body Length: 1.3-1.4m / 52in from nose to tip of tail.

Shoulder Height: 85-95cm / 33.5-37.5in.

Tail Length: 12-15cm / 4.75-5.75in.

Weight: 45-90kg / 99-200lb.

Description: Sind Ibex are rather stocky animals with thick-set bodies and strong limbs terminating in broad hooves. Female and young males, till their second winter, are yellowish-brown variying to reddish-grey with a darker brown mid-dorsal line extending from between the shoulders to the base of the tail. Mature males are spectacularly beautiful, with long sweeping scimitar shaped horns over 102cm (40in) in length and almost silver white bodies offset by a sooty grey chest, throat and face. The extent of white hairs in the hind neck and body region of males increases with age. The hair in summer coat is short and coarse and even in adult males is more reddish-buff in colour. Males have shorth beards, but females lack any beard. The belly and outside of the lower limbs, beard annd forepart of the face vary from balck to deep chestnut-brown in mature males. There is also a conspicuous black stripe in adult males, running from the wothers down the front of the shoulders and merging with the black chest. Older males have a dark face pattern. The horns are strongly keeled in front, sweeping upwards and outwards witht the tips generally diverging.

Reproduction: Gestation Period: 150 to 155 days. Young per Birth: 1, but twins are common. Mating occurs between October and December, with the young being born from April to May. Weaning: After seven to eight months. Sexual Maturity: At 3 years.

Social Behavior: This wild goat is gregarious, and if undisturbed will congregate in fairly large herds. The older male associate with such herds but generally keep together, often on the periphery of the main band. Where disturbed, they are much more wary and ascend into inaccessible crags very early in the morning, emerging again just before dusk. During the hottest part of the year, they lie up more extensively during the day and may graze a considerable part of the night. Wild goats have a wonderfull sense of balance and can make a standing leap 1.75m (5-6ft) upwards on a seemingly vertical rock surface. They appear almost slow and deliberate when traversing rock faces but can slide without injury down almost perpendicular rock faces with drops as much as 4-6m. When challenging another male these wild goats frequently stand up on their hind legs and at the same time bend their head to one side before charging forward and clashing their horns.

Diet: The will browse the leaves and bushes as well as small shrubs and forbes. Many observers believe that they can exist indefinitely without drinking water (all above information from " The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts).

Habitat and Distribution:

Wild goats can survive almost at sea level and in fact do so in some of the remorter cliffs around Ormara. They inhabit mountain crests up to 3, 350m. Wild goats are found in all the higher and more extensive mountian ranges of southern Baluchistan from the Mekran coastal range at Pasni right across Sindh Kohistan and the Kirthar Range in the east. They are also found in Kalat. There is a game reserve for ibex in the Hingol Range in central Mekran. The biggest population of this wild goat is in Kirthar National Park in southern Sind. There have been many census carried out and Sind Wildlife Department puts the total number in Kirthar National Park at around 4,000 ( Kirthar National Park guidebook ). A helicopter survey conducted in November 2000 by the staff of the Sindh Wildlife Department, Zoological Survey Department and the University of Melbourne yielded estimates of the total populations of the Sindh ibex at 13,155 ± 2460, and concentrated on the Khirthar Range, with lower concentrations on Khambu and Dumbar and small numbers elsewhere. (all above information from " The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts and "Baseline Environmental Study of Kirthar National Park", Sind Wildlife Department ).

 

Chiltan Wild Goat
( Capra Aegagrus Chialtanensis )

PHOTO CREDIT: Zeeshan Mirza (WWF-Pakistan)

Local name: Chiltan Markhor (Urdu)

Description and Biology:

Description: Described as a distinct subspecies by Lydekker in 1913, this wild goat was well known to local hunters and sportsmen even before this date and several writers had suggested that it might be a hybrid between the Straight-Horned Markhor and the Persian Pasang. This proposed classification was based upon the unique twisted shape of the horns with flattened keel flaring outwards in older males. Schaller (1975 and 1980) studied the Chiltan population and considered that it was not a Markhor but a Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus) based upon the following evidence 1) The horns of the Chiltan Goat have a sharp keel in front as in C.aegagrus, not at the back as in the Markhor. 2) The pelage of adult males lacks any chest ruff with a tendency to silvery grey hairs on the body and a darker mid-dorsal line and also darker sternum with dark shoulder stripes, all features resembling C.aegagrus not C.falconeri. 3) A cross section of the bony horn core of the Chiltan Goat resembles that of C.aegagrus, not of C.falconeri.

The females of Chiltan Wild Goats are more or less indistinguishable from female Markhor of the C.f.jerdoni population. They are reddish-grey in color with a dark brown mid-dorsal stripe from shoulder to rump and creamy-white legs bearing conspicuous dark brown pattern on the fore part of the shank with a white knee (carpal) patch, and the dark brown spreading around the base of the fetlock. The males, as they reach their third or fourth winter, have an increasing amount of white and grey hairs in the mid dorsal and shoulder regions. Some adult males show varying amounts of black hairs on the lower chest or sternum, as well as a darker shoulder stripe as in C.aegagrus. They also lack any ruff of hairs on the chest, but so does the Baluchistan population of C.falconeri jerdoni. Such a marking lends support to the argument that the Chiltan Goat has a closer relationship with C.aegagrus than C.f.jerdoni. The horns are the most striking feature in adult males. Quite unlike the adjacent population of C.f.jerdoni with its tightly twisted corkscrew spiral, they are intermediate in shape between those of the Markhor and Wild Goat (Persian Pasang). They normally have just under one complete spiral, being strongly keeled and flattened in cross section like the horns of C.aegagrus. A good head of the Chiltan Markhor rarely measures more than 73.6cm(29in) measured over the curve.Reproduction: Gestation Period: 160 days. Young per Birth: Twins appear to occur quite frequently. The rut starts slightly earlier however, commencing from mid-October and females probably come into oestrus at the beginning of November, with the young being born from the end of March to early April.

Social Behavior: This wild goat is gregarious and diurnal in feeding and have similar habits to the Straight-horned Markhor.

Diet: They will browse the leaves and bushes as well as small shrubs and forbes. (all above information from " The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts).

Habitat and Distribution:

The Chiltan Wild Goat is endemic to Pakistan and is listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red Data book. The Chiltan Goat was restricted in the early 1970s to four or five populations around Quetta, the main one being on the Chiltan range itself. This population was estimated to number about 200 in 1975 by Schaller and Mirza, who actually counted 168 individuals. The Hazar Ganji National Park was established in 1980 and rigid protection for the first decade enabled the wild goats to increase to an estimated 480 animals in 1990. Recent population estimates done by WWF-Pakistan in 1997 have put the number of the Chiltan Goat at around 800. Due to the park's proximity to Quetta city, poaching had hitherto always been a major problem. During 1992, Marri tribal groups who had migrated to Afghanistan returned to Pakistan because of the effects of the civil war in the formaer country. They were temporarily settled by the Government of Baluchistan on the lower slopes adjacent to the Chiltan range. This had a disastrous effect on the natural vegetation and surviving scrub forest cover, and on the wildlife within the National Park.

According to reliable accounts of local hunters in Quetta, substantiated by horns of a male specimen shot from that part, a very small remnant population survives in the Murdar hills and this may be as few as twelve to fifteen individuals.(all above information from " The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts).

Marco Polo Sheep
( Ovis Ammon Polii )

PHOTO CREDIT: Zack Skochko (wildsheep.org)

Local name: Rusch (Wakhi: Northern Hunza)

Description and Biology:

Size:

Shoulder Height: 110-122cm / 43.5-48in.

Weight: 113.5-140kg / 250-308lb.

Description: Within Pakistan territory only the Marcopolo subspecies of the Argali occurs. It is recognized by the very long outward curving horns, developed in the mature males. An aged ram is surely one of the most impressive representatives of the entire order Artiodactyla, being not only the bearer of massive spiralling horns which can span a man's outstretched arms, but also being almost twice the height and size of most other wild or domestic sheep.

In summer the hair on the body is short and coarse and of a sandy-reddish colour with the face and breast having an admixture of grey and white hairs. The legs and belly are creamy-white without any darker pattern on the frontal part of the shin such as is found in the goats or the Bharal. In winter, because of thicker underwool, the animal looks bulkier and slightly greyer, with much white about the neck and chest in old rams. Not surprisingly, the neck in rams tends to be heaver and muscular. The tail is short and not bushy and in both sexes the legs appear relatively long and slender when compared with the wild goats. There is more extensive white area in the caudal region as compared to the Urial. There is no long-haired chest ruff in the rams as in various races of Urial.In a mature ram, the horns curve outwards describing more than a complete arc, their distal quarter or third, forming another turn. They are broad and massive at their base. In 1967 a 137cm(54in) had was shot in Pakistan by Captain Gauhar Ayub on the Khunjerab Pass in Hunza.

Reproduction: Gestation Period: 5.5 months. Young per Birth: Single or occasional twin lambs being born in May and June. Rut: The rut is well marked and of short duration as in all wild sheep. The rut takes place later in November and even extending to early December. Life Span: around 13 years.

Social Behavior: This is a gregarious species, generally congregating in herds of a dozen up to over a hundred individuals. These herds consist of females with their sub-adult young and immature males. Outside the rutting season mature rams live in small bands of two or three, rarely up to five or six occurring together. They confine their feeding activity to a few hours just after dawn and again become active in the evening. During the middle of the day they retreat to some higher boulder-strewn ridge where they lie down and chew the cud. They have etremely keen eyesight and sense of smell and are always very wary and difficult to approach. When danger threatens flocks tend to bunch together, and both sexes have been observed to stamp their feet and after running some distance away to again stop and turn to face the danger. Apart from the grunting call emitted by rams in combat, lambs also call their mothers with a typically "merrhing" call when they lose contact.

Diet: They graze mainly on the scattered bunches of coarse grass. In the northern part of Hunza in winter they feed on the scattered clumps of wild onions. (all above information from " The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts).

Habitat and Distribution:

The Marco Polo sheep is an inhabitant of very high mountain plateau regions subject to severly cold winds and rather arid climatic conditions throughout the year. Currently, Marco Polo sheep has a very limited spatial and temporal distribution in Pakistan. It is confined to probably at most, three remnant populations in the northwestern part of Hunza district along the Chinese border. Here, between spring and autumn, it occupies two sperate valleys in the noethwest section of Khunjerab National Park, and also inhabits the Kilik-Mintaka border area, just west of the National Park. Schaller et al. (1987) found no sign of this argali on the Chinese side of Khunjerab pass , and suggested that the population of the Khunjerab area was isolated.

Rasool gives a population number of 300 for Khunjerab NP in 1976, and between July 1978 and March 1981, his estimates of monthly population numbers vary between zero and 160. Numbers in Khunjerab NP are reported to have been declining rapidly over the last 10 years, with only 20 reported in 1988. However , no animals were observed in the Park after the 1988 sighting until a herd of 45 was seen in July 1991. In 1992, locals reported that between six and 60 argali may use Khunjerab NP in winter. The size of the population in the Kilik-Mintaka area is not know because locals had prohibited wildlife officials from entering the area, but reports in 1991 indicate all animals may have been shot.

Construction and opening of the Karakoram Highway has been a major factor in the rise of poaching for this argali. Competition for forage, created by the presence of an estimated 700 feral yaks and at least 3,000 domestic goats and sheep in the Karchanai Nullah of Khunjerab NP, is an increasing problem that local park officials are unable to deal with. Marco Polo sheep is probably the most endangered of Pakistan's wild sheep and goats, and unless action is taken immediately they will probably become extinct. (all above information from Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae "Wild Sheep and Goats and their Relatives", IUCN/SSC 1997)

.

Urial Sheep
( Ovis Vignei )

PHOTO CREDIT: Ghulam Ali Awan

Local name: Urial (Punjab) Gad (Baluchistan) Shapu (Northern Areas)

3 Subspecies:

  • Ovis. vignei. cycloceros (Afghan Urial)
  • Ovis. vignei. punjabiensis (Punjab Urial)
  • Ovis. vignei. vignei (Ladakh Urial)

Description and Biology:

Size:

Shoulder Height: 76.15-91.5cm / 30-36in.

Horn Lenght: 63.5-105.5cm / 25-41.5in.

Description: Similar to the Marco Polo Sheep in general body proportions and colouring but averaging considerably smaller in size with shorter, less massive horns. The face is generally greyish, the long slender legs and belly are creamy-white and the body fur is a reddis-grey colour. There is no extensive white area in the caudal region. The tail is always the same color as teh dorsal hair and lacks any longer hair or terminal tuft. The sub-orbital glands are deep and conspicuous often exurding a viscous substance which mats the hair. The iris is pale yellowich-grey with the retina contracting to a horizontal slot.

Adult rams develop a conspicuous chest ruff of long straight coarse hairs which starts at the angle of the jaws and termintes abruptly between the forelegs. This ruff is predominantly white in the throat region and black as it extends down to the sternum. In summer moult this ruff is much shorter but still conspicuous. Females have slender upward curving horns about 12.7cm(5in) long. The horns in mature of mature rams are comparatively slender and angular when contrasted with other wild sheep species but they describe a very symmetrical arc when viewed from the side and curve out widely from the body, so that it is a strinking looking animal especially if encountered in the first rays of the morning sun, when its coat glows an almost pinkish-red color and the black chest-ruff stands out in sharp contrast. Older rams also develop traces of a greyish-white saddle mark in the winter coat.

O.vignei.vignei body fur tends to be more greyish in winter and less red. The chest ruff is comparatively short with black hairs predominating. The horns turn markedly inwards at their tips and often the wrinkles or corrugations are rather shallow and indistinct. O.vignei.cycloceros tends to have a longer, more luxuriantly developed neck ruff. The body fur is reddish and the saddle mark in males is generally very indistinct or lacking. The rams have horns which often develop more than a complete arc when viewed from the side with the tips bending slightly outwards. O.vigei. punjabiensis tend to be smaller and stokier in build compared with the Afghan sub-species and mature rams develop a conspicuous saddle mark in the form of a vertical band of mixed black and white hairs. The Punjab urial often has horns which are more massive at their base than the Afghan population but these never vurve round in more than a complete arc.

Reproduction: Gestation Period: 150-180 days. Young per Birth: Single or occasional twin lambs being born in mid-April to early May in Punjab and often as early as late March in Kirthar Range in Sind. Rut: Rams show no sign of sexual interest or rut until their third autumn when they are two and a half years of age. Sexual Maturity: At 4-5 years. Life Span: 10-11 years.

Social Behavior: Like the Marco Polo sheep, Urial are gregarious and the biggest herds consist of associations of female with their followers and immature males. Feeding activity is confined to the early morning and evening in the summer months, often commencing well before dawn. During the day they rest, usually under an overhanging bush or rock where they are well concealed. Their sight, hearing ans sense of smell are all acutely developed. They are excessively wary, depending upon early detection of approaching danger and flight for their survival.

Diet: Their preferred food is grasses. They will in time of fodder scarcity, browse the leaves of Acacia Modesta and sometimes pink mucilaginous fruits. (all above information from " The Mammals of Pakistan" by T.J Roberts).

Habitat and Distribution:

In Baluchistan and Waziristan, the Urial inhabits the gentler slopes of the higher mountain ranges and will occur up to 2,750m(9,000ft). In the Salt range and the Southern North West Frontier Province they are typically associated with lower elevation rounded stony stony hills dotted with wild olive. In the extreme northern and inner Himalayan ranges, the Shapu is associated with barren treeless regions in the lower foothills. They avoid steep precipitous regions in all cases and are usually found in regions with deep erosion gullies which afford them some cover, interspersed with relatively smooth boulder-strewn slopes.

In Pakistan, the Afghan urial is found in Baluchistan, North West Frontier (NWFP), and Sindh Provinces. No total population census based on surveys is available. Perhaps 2,500 - 3,000 animals lived in Baluchistan (HESS et al. 1997, after ROBERTS 1985). According to ROBERTS (1997), the population in Baluchistan Province is comprised of small, isolated populations on a number of mountain ranges. The Torghar Hills area in the Toba Kakar Range north of Quetta, Baluchistan appears to be a stronghold. Afghan urial were surveyed in the 950 km2 Torghar Conservation Project (TCP) area in 1994 and 1997. In 1994, JOHNSON (1997b) counted 189 urial in five survey blocks within the TCP area. In 1997, FRISINA et al. (1998) counted 47 urial in three of the same blocks counted in 1994. Extrapolating from these survey areas, JOHNSON (1997b) estimated a total population of 1,173 urial in the 950 km2 TCP area, while FRISINA et al. (1998) estimated a total population of 1,543 urial for the same area three years later. However, these results are not expected to be typical of other mountain ranges in Baluchistan because poaching of urial has been effectively controlled in the TCP area whereas it has not been effectively controlled in other areas. Elsewhere in Baluchistan Province, urial still exist in the Takhatu Hills, in the Gishk hills of northeastern Kalat, in the Zambaza Range south of Fort Sandeman, in the Daman Ghar range north of Muslim Bagh, and around Turbat and Ormara in the Mekran coast hills (ROBERTS 1997).

According to MITCHELL (1988) 1,000 individuals (0,2/km˛ ) inhabited the Torghar hills of Toba Kakar range (District Zhob). About 150 animals inhabit the Takatu hills near Quetta (AHMAD, unpubl. data), and the situation in the Dureji hills (District Zhob) may be a little better (VIRK 1991). MALIK (1987) estimated a total of 310 - 340 Afghan urial for the whole of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), whereas the NWFP Forest Department (1992) reported a more recent total of only 80 urial, suggesting a severe decline over 5 years. For Sind Province, a census carried out by MIRZA & ASGHAR (1980) estimated a population of 430 urial for Kirthar NP. Based on a census in the Mari-Lusar-Manghtar range and in the Karchat mountains in 1987, BOLLMANN (1998) estimated between 800 and 1,000 urial (0,26 - 0,32/km˛ ) for the whole of Kirthar NP. According to EDGE & OLSON-EDGE (1987) about 150 to 200 animals live in the Mari-Lusar-Manghtar range, and 100 to 150 in the Karchat mountains (1,7 - 2,5/km˛ ). A helicopter survey conducted in November 2000 by the staff of the Sindh Wildlife Department, Zoological Survey Department and the University of Melbourne yielded estimates of the total populations of the Afghan Urial in Kirthar National Park at 10,425 ± 675. This population concentrated on rocky sites with characteristic vegetation mainly near Khar and at Dumbar, with small numbers elsewhere. The overall density of Afghan urial in Pakistan is probably much lower than this. (HESS et al. 1997, after AHMAD unpubl. data, EDGE & OLSON-EDGE 1987, MALIK 1987, MIRZA & ASGHAR 1980, Mitchell 1988, NWFP 1992, ROBERTS 1985 and VIRK 1991, Sindh Wildlife Department( Kirthat National Park, Baseline Environmental Study 2000), (BOLLMANN 1998).

According to SARDAR ZULFIQAR ALI BHOOTANI (TAREN 1999, in litt. after pers. comm. to S. Z. A. BHOOTANI), tribal chief and manager of conservation programs at Dureji, the approximate population in Dureji is more than 1,300 animals.

A complete census made in 1976-1977 by MIRZA et al. (1979) estimated the total world population of Punjab urial (O. v. punjabiensis) as 2,157 animals. According to SCHALLER (1977) the population was < 2,000. Estimates by CHAUDHRY (unpubl. data, in 1992) give a minimum total population of 1,550 throughout its whole range. For Punjab, CHAUDHRY et al. (1988) reported a significant decline in urial numbers over only 1 year from 733 in 1986 to 528 in 1987. (HESS et al. 1997, after CHAUDHRY et al. 1988, CHAUDHRY 1992, unpubl. data, MIRZA et al. 1979 and SCHALLER 1977). The private Game Reserve of the Nawab of Kalabagh, about 175 kilometers southwest of Islamabad in Punjab province, possesses the largest population of O. v. punjabiensis estimated to be over 800-850 animals. The total population in the province is estimated to be less than 2,000 animals scattered in four or five small groups. (TAREN 1999, in litt. after pers. comm. to A. A. CHAUDHRY, Director of Punjab Wildlife Department). According to GARSTANG (1999) only four other sub-populations with a total population size estimated at a maximum of 200-250 urial were located outside the Kalabah Region (Kala Bagh Sanctuary of the Jabbah Valley, District Mianwali).

Around 1900 the Ladakh urial used to be a common animal of northern Pakistan. According to SCHALLER (1976) < 1,000 animals were left in Pakistan. HESS (1997 and 1999, in litt.) estimated only 200 - 400 individuals for 1983 -1988. In 1992 a total of 57 urial was estimated by NWFP Forest Department. The total estimated for the Northern Areas for 1993 was 400 - 500 urial (G.TAHIR, Wildlife Wing, Northern Areas Forest Dept., in litt. to G. RASOOL). There are probably < 600 Ladakh urial in total in Pakistan. (HESS et al. 1997, after NWFP 1992, SCHALLER 1976 and G. TAHIR in litt. to G. RASOOL). According to Rasool (1999, in litt.) the previous estimated population has now dropped down to 200 - 300 urial in the whole of the Northern Areas of Pakistan.

All three sub-species of Urial in Pakistan are listed as Endangered in by the IUCN's Capirane Specialist Group. Unless conservation measures are taken quickly, the Urial will be lost in Pakistan, especially Ladakh and Punjab urial. One of the main reason is that the populations are very small and widely scattered in relatively accesible terrain, and thus can easily be wiped out with no chance for areas to be naturally re-populated through dispersal.(all above information from Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae "Wild Sheep and Goats and their Relatives", IUCN/SSC 1997 and "Mammals of Pakistan", T.J. Roberts)

.

Bharal or Blue Sheep
( Pseudois Nayaur )

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Joanna Van Gruisen

 

Local name: Bharal (Urdu)

Description and Biology:

Size:

Body Length: 115-165 cm / 3.8-5.5 ft.

Shoulder Height: 75-90 cm / 2.5-3 ft.

Tail Length: 10-20 cm / 4-8 in.

Weight: 35-75 kg / 77-165 lb.

Description: The bharal was described by Hodgson in 1833. Bharal is a Hindi name, while "blue sheep" is a reference to the bluish sheen in the coat. The short, dense coat is slate grey in colour, sometimes with a bluish sheen. The underparts and backs of the legs are white, while the chest and fronts of the legs are black. Separating the grey back and white belly is a charcoal coloured stripe. The ears are small, and the bridge of the nose is dark. The horns are found in both sexes, and are ridged on the upper surface. In males, they grow upwards, then turn sideways and curve backwards, looking somewhat like an upside-down moustache. They may grow to a length of 80 cm/ 32 in. In females, the horns are much shorter and straighter, growing up to 20 cm / 8 inches long.

Reproduction: Gestation Period: 160 days. Young per Birth: 1. Mating occurs between October and January, with the young being born from May to July. Weaning: After 6 months. Sexual Maturity: At 1.5 years, although males do not reach their full potential before age 7. Life span: 12-15 years.

Social Behavior: Solitary or in small groups of less than 20 animals which consist of almost entirely one sex. Bharal are active throughout the day, alternating between feeding and resting on the grassy mountain slopes. Due to their excellent camouflage and the absense of cover in their environment, bharal remain motionless when approached. Once they have been noticed, however, they scamper up to the precipitous cliffs, where they once again freeze, 'melting' into the rock face. Bharal are the favourite prey of the Snow Leopard.

Diet: Grasses, lichens, hardy herbacious plants, mosses. (all above information from "The Ultimate Ungulate Page" by Brent Huffman).

Habitat and Distribution:

In Pakistan the Bharal inhabits the remote and inaccesible mountian ranges of the Karakoram in Northern Pakistan at 3000-5550 m / 10,000-18,500 ft. Blue sheep are not as agile as ibex,and are typically found on more open and grassy areas. Blue sheep are found in Chat Pirt and Ghujerav areas of Shimshal in Baltistan (information by Sher Ali: Shimshal Nature Trust). They are also found in Khunjerab National Park. Shimshal marks the western most limit of their range in the Himalaya. It is believed that Bharal are common in the Shimshal area, but overall they are very local in distribution in Pakistan. Bharal meat is favoured by Shimshalis and they are hunted quiet often.

 

 Goral Sheep
( Nemorhaedus Goral )

 

 

PHOTO CREDIT: Unknown

 

Local name: Goral (Urdu)

Description and Biology:

Size:

Body Length: 95-130 cm / 37-53 in.

Shoulder Height: 75-80 cm / 30-32 in.

Tail Length: Up to 18 cm / 7.2 in.

Weight: 35-42 kg / 77-92 lb.

Description: The Goral is considered to be a "goat-elope", sharing characteristics of both the true goats and sheep, and antelope. The coat varies in colour from grizzled grey to gray-brown, and grows shaggy in winter. The slender legs are light tan in colour, and there is a lighter coloured 'bib' at the base of throat. A dark stripe extends dowe the spine and onto the forelegs. The back is slightly arched, and the facial profile is concave. Males have a short, semi-erect mane. Both sexes have short, pointed horns which curve backwards. With small, irregular ridges, they grow 13-18 cm / 5-7 inches long.

Biology: Breeding may take place at any time of the year; however, bucks are more active in spring and fall. Fawns are born at all seasons, but fewest births occur in winter. The length of gestation is about 5 months and within a month of parturition the female may breed again. A single fawn is the rule. Females reach sexual maturity by 8 months of age, but usually do not breed until nearly 2 years of age. Physical maturity is reached at 1 year. Males mature later than females, and are able to breed at 18 month of age. The lifespan is up to 15 years.

Reproduction: Gestation Period: 170-218 days. Young per Birth: 1, rarely up to 3. Weaning: At 7-8 months. Sexual Maturity: About 3 years. Life span: 14-15 years.

Social Behaviour: Gorals are most active in the early morning and late evening, but on cloudy days roam throughout the day.They often drink after eating in the morning, thereafter retiring to a rock ledge on which to rest until evening. Gorals are extremely nimble, and can move at high speeds across inaccessible terrain. Their remarkable camouflage is extremely effective, and along with the fact that they lie motionless, gorals are extremely difficult to spot, even when in plain site. The alarm call consists of hissing or a sneezing noise. Groups inhabit an area of about 100 acres. During the mating season, males may occupy and mark territories of 22-25 hectares. Old males are usually solitary, otherwise they live in small groups of 4-12.

Diet: leaves, twigs, nuts. A study was conducted on grey goral (Nemorhaedus goral )by Maqsood Anwar and Joseph A. Chapman of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council for its feeding habits and food in the Margalla Hills National Park. Goral mostly foraged early in the morning at sunrise and late in the evening before sunset (75%). Their major food consisted of leaves of certain trees and shrubs when green grass was not available. They changed their foraging activities almost entirely to grazing on green grass during the spring and summer. Vegetation analysis of goral habitat revealed that about 60% of the vegetation consisted of plant species commonly eaten by goral. These species included Themeda anathera, Chrysopogon aucheri, Carissa opaca, Acacia modesta, Mimosa rubicaulis and Ipomoea hispida. Clumps of chir pine (Pinus roxburghii) were found on higher ridges with scattered grasses and shrubs as understorey cover. Vegetation cover comprised 47.1% grasses, 33.4% shrubs and 19.5% trees. The frequency occurrence of grasses, shrubs and trees was 81.5%, 14.5% and 4.0%, respectively. Total ground cover was almost the same on both the northern and southern slopes. Livestock competed with goral for forage in most of its habit area.( all above information from "The Ultimate Ungulate Page" by Brent Huffman and FEEDING HABITS AND FOOD OF GREY GORAL IN THE MARGALLA HILLS NATIONAL PARK, April-June, 2000, Vol. 16 No.2 of Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Research Council ).

Habitat and Distribution:

Gorals inhabit wooded mountain slopes at elevations of 1,000-4,000 m /3,300-13,500 ft in the Himalayas. In Pakistan the Goral is mainly found in the Margalla National Park. Small Populations are found futher west in Swat, Dir and lower Chitral. The Goral is rare in Chitral.

The main surviving population of Goral is in Margalla Hills National Park. The population has increased, but is still very local and small. A study on grey goral (Nemorhaedus goral) was conducted by Maqsood Anwar and Joseph A. Chapman of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council in the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) to determine its distribution and population status. They were confined to the steep slopes and difficult terrain. They were usually found very close to the ridges. Presently, 28% of total park area is occupied by goral and 21% of the park area has similar habitat, but without any goral occurrence there. Among 40-60 animals living in the park, it was observed that 72% were adults and 28% were juveniles. Juveniles were accompanied by adults on 80% occasions and sex ratio was near 1:1. ( T.J Roberts Mammals of Pakistan and "DISTRIBUTION AND POPULATION STATUS OF GREY GORAL IN THE MARGALLA HILLS NATIONAL PARK", April-June, 2000, Vol. 16 No.2 of Pakistan Journal of Agricultural Research Council).

 


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