(Capra falconeri) is a large species of wild goat that is found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, some parts of Indian Jammu and Kashmir, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The word “markhor” is Farsi and means snake eater, although the Pushto translation means snake horn, which is probably the correct meaning.
Subspecies include: Bukharan Markhor; Astor Markhor; Kashmir Markhor; Kabul Markhor; and Sulaiman Markhor. Many hunters pursue the Capra World Slam which requires 12 different species (subspecies) of goats, markhor, and tahr.
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The Kashmir markhor was unattainable to the international trophy hunter until only two decades ago. It was reserved solely as a prerogative for distinguished guests of royalty. This rare trophy can now be legally hunted by the very few hunters who are fortunate enough to obtain a permit.
Local Kashmir residents now have a reason to protect the animals and prevent poaching thanks to the high trophy value of the horns. At the beginning of the hunting program, three US hunters paid as much as $150,000 per trophy – for every animal hunted, $105,000 was returned to the community for a total of $315,000. Slowly but surely, the population began to recover.
Strict quotas are still in place, but the markhor population has bounced back, now totaling as many as 2,500 animals. The permits are extremely difficult to get, as the Pakistani government only auctions off 12 licenses per year, and they have a correspondingly high price: in 2006 foreign hunters paid $40,000 per trophy. It wasn’t until 2007 that it became legal for US hunters to import their trophies back to the United States, but today that is possible.