In response, this SOS - Save Our Species project, implemented by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), is developing a community-based conservation initiative in the center of Markhor distribution in Pakistan to help protect this species and its habitat. Community-based conservation is the only way to protect Markhor across most of their range in Pakistan as they are primarily found in parts of the country where local people own and control their resources, including the wildlife.
Political boundaries and biological boundaries rarely coincide. In this program’s area, steep-sided mountains delineate valley watersheds that also function as local political boundaries between communities. However, Markhor are skilled mountain climbers, and do not define their home range by watershed – in fact, they almost always use a minimum of two watersheds (which for them simply constitutes both sides of a mountain). Thus even if a Markhor herd is protected by one community, the herd can still be under significant threat from a neighboring community. The creation of Markhor Conservancies will link different village committees together to develop coordinated management plans to monitor and protect the species.
Finally, while communities enthusiastically embrace this conservation approach, their capacity to do so is extremely limited. This program also builds local capacity to understand threats, options for controlling and managing those threats, and monitoring and evaluating their work. Regular meetings and workshops will be held with each committee to train members in modern resource management skills. Individuals are identified and trained to become community wildlife rangers. Training includes accurate identification of wildlife species and signs of occurrence, proper survey methodology, note taking, and data recording. These data then act as monitoring and evaluation measures to assess success.