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UNGA Proclaimed May 24 as the International Day of the Markhor

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed May 24 as the International Day of the Markhor. This resolution, sponsored by Pakistan and eight other countries, aims to raise awareness and promote the conservation of this iconic and ecologically significant species found across the mountainous regions of Central and South Asia.

The markhor (Capra falconeri), also known as the “screw-horned goat,” is the national animal of Pakistan. It is a majestic wild goat known for its striking spiral-shaped horns, which can grow up to 1.6 meters (5.2 feet) in length, making them the largest horns of any living caprid species.

Threatened But Recovering

Once believed to be on the brink of extinction, the markhor population has gradually increased, doubling in a couple of decades, with a particular jump since 2014. According to Saeed Abbas, an official with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Pakistan, “The population of the Markhor has been increasing with an annual ratio of 2% since 2014.”

The current estimated population of the markhor ranges between 3,500 and 5,000, with the majority found in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province of Pakistan, followed by Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan.

Despite this positive trend, the markhor remains categorized as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and is included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 1992.

Ecological and Economic Significance

The resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly underlines the ecological significance of the markhor and its role in the overall ecosystem. It also recognizes the opportunity to bolster regional economies, foster conservation efforts, and promote sustainable tourism and economic growth through the preservation of the markhor and its natural habitat.

The markhor is not only valuable for its ecological importance but also contributes to the local economy. Conservation efforts aimed at preserving this species and its habitat will benefit the entire ecosystem, providing a significant boost to regional economies and promoting sustainable development.

Celebrating Conservation Efforts

The International Day of the Markhor is an opportunity to celebrate the conservation efforts undertaken by various stakeholders, including governments, non-governmental organizations, and local communities, to protect this iconic species and its natural habitat.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has been invited to facilitate the observance of this day, encouraging worldwide participation and collaboration in support of markhor conservation efforts.

As we celebrate the first International Day of the Markhor on May 24, 2024, let us renew our commitment to preserving this majestic species and its natural habitat, ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.

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