Pakistan’s airline re-brands to save its national animal

F.P. Report

BEIJING: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in a bid to save “near threatened” Markhor, a mountain goat, from becoming extinct has decided to add the portrait of the animal on its fleet of aircraft.

Mashood Tajwar, the spokesperson for PIA, told China Global Television Network (CGTN) that Markhor is also a national animal of the country facing conservation challenges for a long time. “We decided to create public awareness through our branding strategy. Airlines will work towards protecting the animal and also protect its shrinking habitat,” he said.

The portrait of the Markhor will be prominently splashed on the aircraft, including a large one on the tail and two on the engines. PIA has changed the logo and livery after nearly a decade. “The animal represents the ethos of both the airline and the people it represents across a global diaspora of patriots,” the spokesperson said.

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list for threatened species, an internationally recognized tool for measuring the conservation status of species, puts Markhor in the near threatened category as their number has dwindled to below 10,000.

Strikingly, all the five subspecies of the animal Kashmir Markhor, Astor Markhor, Bukharan Markhor, Sulaiman Markhor, Kabul Markhor are facing a survival challenge. A detailed study on the past and present distribution of Kashmir Markhor shows that animal’s occupancy area has declined by more than 70 percent.

Markhors reside in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, but large-scale poaching for medicine and hunting decimated their population in the last 20 years. Pakistan is home to straight-horned and flared horned Markhors which are a favourite among wildlife aficionados.

Alarmed over the declining population of Markhors, wildlife groups started mobilizing community-based sustainable practices to stop poaching and hunting. Local hunters were motivated to join the conservation efforts to contain the tradition of trophy hunting.

In 1997, 10th Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna-Conference of Parties (CITES-COP10) fixed the national export quota of six Markhors from Pakistan’s community-based hunting management areas.

The annual quota was increased to twelve in 2002, in a bid to encourage community-based conservation.

“We are confident that our awareness drive and possible funding to protect our national animal will inspire more businesses to take up an environmental cause,” Tajwar added.