Our Animals - Aoudad (Barbary Sheep)

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Aoudad Sheep at The Farm at Walnut Creek in Ohio

The Barbary Sheep, Ammotragus lervia, is a species of caprid (goat-antelope) native to rocky mountains in North Africa. Six subspecies have been described. Although it is rare in its native North Africa, it has been introduced to North America, southern Europe and elsewhere.

 

Natural range

Barbary Sheep are found naturally in northern Africa in Algeria, Tunisia, northern Chad, Egypt, Libya, northern Mali, Mauritania, Morocco (including Western Sahara), Niger and Sudan (west of the Nile and east of the Nile in the Red Sea Hills)[4].

 

Introduced populations

Barbary Sheep have been introduced to southeastern Spain and southwestern United States (on La Escalera Ranch, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and other parts of Texas, New Mexico, and California) and Mexico and to some parts of Africa.

Aoudad Sheep at The Farm at Walnut Creek in OhioBarbary sheep have become common in a limited region of the south-east of Spain, since its introduction in 1970 to Sierra Espuña [Regional park] as a game species. Its adaptability enabled it to colonise nearby areas quickly, and private game estates provided other centers of dispersion. The species is currently expanding, according to recent field surveys, now being found in the provinces of Alicante, Almería, Granada and Murcia.[5] This species is a potential competitor to native ungulates inhabiting the Iberian Peninsula. The species has also been introduced to La Palma (Canary Islands), and has spread throughout the northern and central parts of the island, where it is a serious threat to endemic vegetation.

The subspecies are found allopatrically in various parts of North Africa:[4]

 

Habitats

Barbary Sheep are found in arid mountainous areas where they graze and browse grass, bushes and lichens. They are able to obtain all their moisture from food, but if liquid water is available they drink it and wallow in it. Barbary Sheep are crepuscular: active in the early morning and late afternoon and resting in the heat of the day. They are very agile and can achieve a standing jump of over 2 metres (7 ft). Barbary Sheep are usually solitary, and freeze in the presence of danger. Their main predators in North Africa are leopard and caracal.

 

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