Specieswatch: Welsh Kashmiri goats offer locals weather report

Kashmiri goats (Capra markhor) provided much-needed light relief and an inspiration for cartoonists when they were filmed strolling through a seemingly deserted Llandudno in north Wales during lockdown. They grazed on privet hedges and nibbled prized garden plants.

The species – originally brought to Britain to launch a cashmere shawl industry, which took off when Queen Victoria kept a large herd at Windsor – was released on Great Orme, which towers over Llandudno, just over a century ago. A landowner had decided they were unsuitable park animals, possibly because of their powerful odour.

They still behave like the mountain goats they are. The agile mothers leave their kids safe from predators on tiny ledges, returning regularly to suckle them. When the kids are old enough they are led to join the rest of the herd.

The goats are mostly inconspicuous, moving away from inquisitive tourists and fading into the hillside vegetation. In normal times, if they do come down from the hills, residents fear bad weather – the coincidence happening often enough to give the theory credence.

Attempts to cull them have led to fierce resistance and a resultant study has revealed that isolation has led the herd to have distinctive characteristics, creating a subspecies worth preserving.