ISLAMABAD: To conserve and protect the markhor population and their habitats in the country, Pakistan Post in collaboration with WWF-Pakistan issued stamps showcasing the Kashmir markhor.

These stamps were released at a ceremony organised at the Pakistan Academy of Sciences building here on Friday. According to experts, the Kashmir markhor in Pakistan faced numerous threats that jeopardised its survival.

The major threats to the markhor population included habitat loss, agricultural expansion, illegal hunting, climate change and infrastructure development. These threats have led to a drastic decline in markhor population across its habitat range.

Considering multiple challenges to the population, WWF called for conservation efforts to protect and preserve this iconic species.

The markhor, declared as the national animal of Pakistan, is large wild goat species native to South Asia and Central Asia, mainly existing in Pakistan, India, the Karakoram Range, parts of Afghanistan and the Himalayas. Since 2015, it has been classified as near threatened on the IUCN red list. Often based on their horn configuration, markhor have been divided into five sub-species: Astor markhor, Bukharan

markhor, Kabul markhor, Kashmir markhor and Suleiman markhor.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan, said the postage stamp not only celebrated the existence of Kashmir markhor but also highlighted the need for concerted conservation efforts to safeguard their future. This initiative also aimed to draw attention to the species threatened status and the pressing need for habitat preservation and anti-poaching measures.

He said the issuance of the postage stamp dedicated to the Kashmir markhor would serve as a reminder of the collective responsibility to protect and preserve our natural heritage for future generations.

“It will also provide a platform to showcase Pakistan’s commitment to wildlife conservation on the global stage,” he added.

Pakistan Post Additional Director General Rizwan Hashmi said Pakistan was home to rich biodiversity, including Indus river dolphin, whales, common leopard, snow leopard and many resident and migratory birds. This postage stamp about Kashmir markhor expresses the government’s commitment to raising awareness and protecting this threatened species which is confronted with different challenges.

He said it was essential to promote collaborative conservation initiatives that help address the threats to wildlife and take on-ground actions. He appreciated the role of communities in the protection of the markhor species in Pakistan.

WWF said as true goats of the Himalayas, the Kashmir markhor was the most spectacular among wild goats, distinguished by its large body, long spiraling horns, thick fur and a flowing beard and neck ruff. It is widely spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2024

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