Argali

The argali is the largest species of wild sheep in the world, standing 120 cm (47 in) tall at the shoulder. Unfortunately, it is also endangered.

ANIMAL FACTS

The massive horns of the rams have led to these sheep being heavily hunted in some areas, but the major threat to their survival is actually loss of habitat to their domestic relatives. Herds are targeted by wolves and snow leopards, while newborn lambs are easy targets for eagles and other birds of prey. Mating occurs in the early winter, and ewes give birth the following spring. The name 'argali' is the native Mongolian word for these sheep.

VITAL STATISTICS

Distribution: Occurs throughout upland areas of central Asia and northern India, at altitudes of 1300 - 6100 m (4200 - 19,500 ft). Present in the Himalayan region, extending east to Mongolia

Weight: 65 - 180 kg (143 - 396 lb)

Length: 134 - 214 cm (53 - 84 in), including tail

Maturity: Females about 2 years; males 5 years

Gestation Period: 150 - 160 days; weaning occurs at about 4 months

Breeding: Typically 1, although occasionally twins are born

Food: Herbivorous, grazing on grass, sedges and other vegetation

Lifespan: 10 - 13 years

Horns

Males have huge corkscrew horns that can measure 190 cm (75 in) overall. Those of females are much smaller.

Colouration

Colour is variable, ranging from buff to greyish-brown on the upperparts, and white on the underparts.

Face

The face is completely white; small ears are located beneath the horns.

Hooves

The hooves ensure these sheep do not slip when climbing in their rocky habitat.

MATERNAL BEHAVIOUR

A ewe goes off alone to give birth, remaining with her offspring for several days before they return to the flock.

Gallery of Argali