Khunjerab National Park

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Khunjerab National Park
Khunjerab national park.jpg
Map showing the location of Khunjerab National Park
Map showing the location of Khunjerab National Park
Khunjerab National Park is established adjacent to Taxkorgan Natural Reserve, China
LocationHunza District, Karakoram, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan
Coordinates36°35′13.21″N 75°23′59.5″E / 36.5870028°N 75.399861°E / 36.5870028; 75.399861
Area2,269.13 km2 (876.12 sq mi)
Elevation17,000 ft (5,200 m)

Khunjerab National Park (Urdu: خنجراب نیشنل پارک‎) is a national park in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan.[1] Khunjerab National Park is Pakistan's third largest national park, and is adjacent to the Taxkorgan Natural Reserve in China.


Khun means "blood" and jerav means "to stream" in Wakhi, the native language of the region.


Khunjerab National Park was established primarily as a means to protect the Marco Polo sheep (as well as snow leopards and bharal) living in the area.[2] The borders of the park were mapped by Schaller in 1974, after a short field survey. The park was formally established on 29 April 1975 by Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who said that "it must become a world famous park".[3]

Some tall, blue-grey mountains rise out of brown soil below a deep blue sky
Khunjerab Pass is close to the national park's northwest corner

Despite being listed as a category 2 national park, banning human activities including agriculture and hunting, the park was poorly managed, meaning that illegal hunting of the Marco Polo sheep continued. Because of this, the International Union for Conservation of Nature commissioned Norwegian biologist Per Wegge to do a wildlife survey of the park in 1988.[4] Wegge found that there was no evidence of competition between the domestic sheep being illegally grazed and the wild Marco Polo sheep, and that most of the illegal hunting was not being done by local Wakhi residents.[4] He therefore proposed that the park be reclassified, allowing grazing and commercial hunting, with the profits going to local residents. However, the government overlooked Wegge's suggestions, instead drawing up a new management plan, which both the IUCN and the World Wildlife Fund supported as a means to preserve the park and protect the wildlife. Wegge was critical of the government scheme, claiming that it was based on financial considerations, with the Pakistani government hoping to attract tourists to the area. The IUCN agreed with this, and has since distanced itself from the national park.[5] To help protect the animals from poaching, the WWF has created the Khunzerav Village Organization, which relies on people living in the area to report poaching or endangered animal sightings.[6] This park was created on 29 April 1975 on the recommendation of wildlife biologist Dr. George Schaller. Over half of the park is above 4,000 m. Khunjerab Pass, the gateway to China via the Karakoram Highway, is at 4,934 m.


The primary purpose of this park was to provide protection to the endangered Marco Polo sheep, which is only found in this area in Pakistan. According to the Mir of Hunza, the population of sheep was around 400 but had dropped to below 180 by the time of the completion of the Karakoram Highway. A herd of almost 75 Marco Polo sheep was recorded in the spring of 1984 and park staff saw at least 50 crossing the pass in May 1989.

The park is also famous for its snow leopards. Some reports say that it might contain the highest density of these beautiful cats in the total Himalayan ecosystem, which is the natural habitat of these cats. Over 2,000 Siberian ibex, widely distributed and abundant in the park but absent from neighbouring China, are also present here.

Feral or semi-feral animals especially domestic yaks can be seen roaming in the park.[7]


Total species: 16. Mammals in the park include:

Name of animal Scientific name Status Pictures
Snow leopard Panther uncia Threatened Lightmatter snowleopard.jpg
Himalayan ibex Capra ibex sibirica Least concern
Himalayan brown bear Ursus arctos isabellinus Threatened Medvěd plavý (Ursus arctos isabellinus).jpg
Red fox Vulpes vulpes Least concern Fox study 6.jpg
Tibetan wolf Canis lupus filchneri Threatened Tibetan Wolf By Stanzin (Stakpa) cropped.jpg
Blue sheep Pseudois nayaur Vulnerable (Shimshal are only) Bharal, Himalayan blue sheep In Tibet.jpg
Marco Polo sheep Ovis ammon polii Threatened Marco polo sheep line drawing.jpg
Western kiang E. k. kiang Unconfirmed Equus kiang - Changtang.jpg
Fergana stoat M. e. ferghanae Least concern
Mountain weasel Mustela altaica Unconfirmed Mountain Weasel (Mustela altaica).jpg
Beech marten Martes foina Least concern Steinmarder (cropped).jpg
Long-tailed marmot Marmota caudata Least concern Marmot at Baroghal Pass.JPG
Eurasian lynx lynx lynx Unconfirmed Lynx lynx2.jpg
Large-eared pika Ochotona macrotis Least concern The Pika.jpg
Dhole Cuon alpinus Unconfirmed Indian wild dog by N. A. Naseer.jpg
Cape hare Lepus capensis Least concern Lepus capensis arabicus-cropped.jpg
Wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus Least concern Apodemus sylvaticus (Sardinia).jpg
Royle's mountain vole Alticola roylei Near threatened
Asian house shrew Suncus murinus Least concern Suncus murinus.jpg
Etruscan shrew Suncus etruscus Least concern Suncus etruscus.jpg
Grey dwarf hamster Cricetulus migratorius Least concern


Name of bird Scientific name Pictures
Bearded vulture Gypaetus barbatus Bartgeier Gypaetus barbatus front Richard Bartz.jpg
Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos Aquila chrysaetos Flickr.jpg
Himalayan vulture Gyps himalayensis Himalayan griffon (Gyps Himalayensis) in Spiti.JPG
Cenreous vulture Aegypius monachus Aegypius monachus, Bikaner, Rajasthan, India.jpg
Western marsh harrier Circus aeruginosus Western Marsh Harrier- Bangalore, India.jpg
Eurasian sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus Accnis edit.jpg
Eurasian kestrel Falco tinnunculus Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Tal Chappar Rajasthan India 14.02.2013.jpg
Lesser kestrel Falco naumanni Lesser Kestrel.png
Saker falcon Falco cherrug Falco cherrug (Marek Szczepanek).jpg
Peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus Peregrine falcon (Australia).JPG
Himalayan snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis TetraogallusHimalayensis.jpg
Chukar partridge Alectoris chukar Chukarhuhn Weltvogelpark Walsrode 2010.jpg
Grey heron Ardea cinerea Garza Real (Ardea cinerea) (5593437102) cropped.jpg
Common sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos Actitis hypoleucos - Laem Pak Bia.jpg
Hill pigeon Columba rupestris Hill Pigeon, near Dras, Jammu and Kashmir, India.jpg
Snow pigeon Columba leuconota ColumbaLeuconotaBaker.jpg
Eurasian eagle-owl Bubo bubo Bubo bubo sibiricus - 01.JPG
Indian eagle-owl Bubo bengalensis Bengalese Eagle Owl.jpg
Common cuckoo Cuculus canorus Eurasian Cuckoo Rongli East Sikkim India 10.04.2016.jpg
Barn swallow Hirundo rustica BarnSwallow cajay.jpg
Eurasian magpie Pica pica Pica pica - Compans Caffarelli - 2012-03-16.jpg
Alpine chough Pyrrhocorax graculus Pyrrhocorax-graculus-0020-a.jpg
Common raven Corvus corax Corvus corax laurencei.jpg

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Khunjerab National Park". World Wildlife Fund. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  2. ^ Kemf 1993, p. 141
  3. ^ Kalland & Bruun 1995, p. 108
  4. ^ a b Kalland & Bruun 1995, p. 109
  5. ^ Kalland & Bruun 1995, p. 110
  6. ^ Khan 2008
  7. ^ Are John Knudsen, 1999, Conservation and Controversy in the Karakoram: Khunjerab National Park, Pakistan, Journal of Political Ecology 56(1)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 36°35′13″N 75°23′59″E / 36.58700332°N 75.39986078°E / 36.58700332; 75.39986078