The Markhor was selected as the national animal of Pakistan because of its ability to endure the mountainous region and its widespread appearance throughout the country. Markhor is a wild goat species commonly found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It was initially listed as endangered by the IUCN but was later listed as Near Threatened in 2015 because its population has increased by approximately 20% in the last year. The name is derived from two Persian words, “Mar” and “Khor” meaning “snake” and “eater” respectively. The name may have been given to the species because of its ability snake or its screw-like horns that resemble a coiling snake.
There are several sub-species of markhor based on the shapes of their horns and the twisting pattern. Some of the sub-species include Astor markhor with large flat horns, Kabul markhor with a slight corkscrewed horns, and Bhukharan markhor. The age of a markhor can easily be determined by counting the number rings on the horn.