Legal hunting season for Markhor runs from November through mid-April. The rut occurs in December and often provides a unique advantage for the hunter. January, February and even early March have disadvantages with the weather as it can turn bad any moment. However, April is also considered a good time to hunt as the Markhor come down to forage for the green grass that appears when the snow melts. Being a comparatively low altitude animal, Markhor thrive at altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 meters in this area of Pakistan. As with any other mountain hunt, chasing Kashmir Markhor also requires a great deal of physical activity.
Markhor is a wild goat and one of the most beautiful wild animals inhabiting the mountainous regions of Pakistan. The animal prefers living on dangerous and steep cliffs of the mountains to protect themselves from the attacks of wild predators including snow leopard and wolf. Also these high cliffs provide safe refuge from the hunters, who wishes to get at least one pride trophy of markhor in their hunting life. The male markhor is more beautiful while having long twisted horns.
Markhor is Pakistan’s national animal. The Pakistan’s national animal, markhor tops in the list with US$100,000 hunting fee. The licence fees for markhors is fixed $100,000. Foreign and local hunters participated in the bidding for the licences which was held at the GB wildlife department’s head office, where GB Minister for Wildlife, Forest & Environment and wildlife officials were present. The trophy hunting quota was decided on the basis of an annual survey conducted by wildlife experts in coordination with local organizations. Wildlife experts say that the rarer the species, the higher the fee. The markhor, which is nearing extinction outside Pakistan, is the rarest of all. However, some of these rare species are facing the threat of extinction due to illegal hunting, negligence of the wildlife department and the climate change related issues.
Gilgit Baltistan is often referred to as a ‘living museum’ as it is home to a variety of animals, including the Marco Polo sheep, ibex, markhor, urial, blue sheep, lynx, snow leopards, brown and black bears, wolves, foxes, marmotes, chakor, Ram chakor and rare species such as the Tibetan wild ass, also known as the kiang.
The trophy hunting program was initiated during the 1980s in Gilgit Baltistan. Every foreign hunter has to pay a fee to the Government of Pakistan in dollars, while Pakistanis pay in rupees. Around 80% of the hunting fee goes to the local community, while the government spends the remaining 20% on projects aimed at forest conservation and biodiversity. he funds are allocated by committees trained by non-governmental organisations in accounts, planning and management.