Library                   Encyclopedia


849 illustration


Ovis ammon

The male argali, or mountain sheep, measures 125 centimetres, including 10 centimetres of tail, and has a shoulder height of 70 centimetres. It weighs up to 50 kilograms. It has large, corkscrew horns that are between 65 and 80 centimetres long. Its short, smooth coat is brownish red on the back and almost white on the underside. Ewes are slightly smaller, usually hornless, and have a brighter coat than the rams.

This species lives in Southern Europe, the Caucasus and the north of Iran and Iraq. In Ukraine, the argali is found in Crimea, on the island of Dzharylhach, in the Askania-Nova reserve and in the Azov-Syvaskyi National Nature Park.

The argali prefers open, mountainous locations and feeds primarily on grains. In Crimea, it sometimes enters forests, where it eats the leaves and bark of young trees. Ewes and their lambs create herds of up to 100, while the rams remain solitary, joining the herd only during the rut. Rutting usually takes place in November, when the fights between rams are usually bloodless and mostly of a ritual nature. Each adult ram keeps close to between five and 20 ewes, but without forming a real harem. After 155 to 170 days of gestation, ewes give birth to one, rarely two lambs. Ewes become sexually mature during their second year, and rams in their third year of life. Because of its beautiful horns the argali has traditionally been the object of royal hunting. Its main natural enemies are wolves and stray dogs. The argali is regarded as the closest relative of the domestic sheep.

  • Illustration
  • Photos
  • Video
  • Audio