The ongoing drought in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) has forced the region’s endangered and highly precious Markhors to descend from their habitats in search of water.
About a dozen Markhors were seen last week on a mountain adjacent to the Karakoram International University (KIU), situated on the junction of Gilgit and Hunza River.
The herd returned after having water.
Conservationists blame the ongoing drought for the Markhors’ descent from their habitat in highlands.
“Wild animals come down, searching for water, when drought persists,” said Ghulam Mustafa, a conservationist in Gilgit, the region’s capital city which is yet to receive its first snowfall or rains for this winter.
The descent also puts this precious species, whose trophy hunting fee in international market is over $55,000, in grave danger.
Protecting the species
Given the species’ endangered status and importance, the university has taken steps to provide security and water for the animals at appropriate points.
After sighting the rare species around KIU, the university management called an emergency meeting to facilitate the wild animals searching for water, an official at KIU told The Express Tribune.
“The director estates and security at
KIU was assigned the task of arranging security and water at appropriate points for the wild animals, which are often subject to illegal hunting,” the official added.
“It will be a good idea if some water is stored at some elevation so that the herd does not need to come down in the settlements,” said Director Estates and Security Maj (retd) Altaf Hussain.
He added that he made a visit to the possible route of the specie and devised a plan for storing water and some food.
“It is our collective responsibility to conserve the unique biodiversity of this region,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.