Species / International Ovis
Capra falconeri falconeri skardu
GENETIC DIFFERENCE: The most definitive genetic study, published in 2020, has determined that there are five sub-populations of the Markhor that have traditionally been classified as Astor. The five sub-populations are geographically isolated and it has been determined that there is no inter-mingling.
PHENOTYPIC DIFFERENCE: All males in the four western sub-populations have vertical sweeping horns and are phenotypically the same. All males in the one eastern sub-population have horizontal sweeping horns.
The GSCO trophy committee has made the decision to recognize the Markhor from the Skardu region of Pakistan as a distinct species, separate from the Astor. The trophy committee evaluates four major factors in making classification decisions and this Markhor meets all four.
CONTRIBUTION TO CONSERVATION: Since most hunters want the classic vertical look of the “Astor” Markhor, the large majority of Markhor hunted have been from the western sub-populations. Few have been hunted from the eastern sub-population. Increasing interest in the eastern Markhor will increase conservation efforts there.
HUNTING OPPORTUNITY: This will increase from four to five the possible Markhor that can be hunted.
Since the town of Skardu is central in the range of this distinct Markhor we are naming it the “SKARDU MARKHOR.” The Markhor from the four western sub-populations will remain as the “ASTOR MARKHOR.”
The accompanying map shows the four western “Astor” ranges and the one eastern “Skardu” range.
The pictures of these two Markhor demonstrate the dramatic contrast between the “Astor” vertical horns and the “Skardu” horizontal horns.
If you have taken a Markhor from the Skardu area, GSCO will change its classification, thus, giving you the opportunity to hunt another Markhor, the Astor.
by: Brian Hauck