Chiltan wild goat

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).

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