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Bharal or Blue Sheep
 
   
   
Fig 1
 
ゥ  Alan Morrison
Fig 2
 
ゥ  Alan Morrison 
 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Order : CETARTIODACTYLA
Family : Bovidae
Species : Pseudois nayaur


Shoulder Height : up to 90 cm
Head-body Length : up to 165 cm
Tail : up to 20 cm
Weight : up to 70 kg

The Bharal, or Blue Sheep, occurs in montane  habitats of the mid-Himalayas, between 2500 and ~6000 metres elevation. Its range stretches from northern Pakistan eastwards to  northernmost Myanmar, the latter being the only location in Southeast Asia where it is known to occur (Rabinowitz & Saw, 1998).

This medium-sized caprine is light brownish grey above, sometimes with a bluish tint, and whitish below. There is a narrow, dark line along the flank which clearly demarcates the dorsal fur from the ventral fur. There is dark fur on the chest and front parts of the legs. The rear part of each leg is pale, as are the front knees.

Males bear impressive thick curved horns, which are relatively smooth, but with ridges on top. Females have shorter horns.

They typically occur well above the treeline, where they subsist on rough grasses and other sparse vegetation, including mosses and lichen. Rabinowitz & Saw (1998) reported herds of up to 30 in northern Myanmar, based on a report by a local hunter, but most herds are probably less than 10 individuals. IUCN state that "small groups (e.g. 300 individuals) have been observed": we assume this to be a typo.

The Bharal is an important prey item for the Snow Leopard.

In some parts of its range this species may be locally common and, as a consequence of the extreme topography where it lives, is under little hunting pressure or competition from domestic livestock. In northern Myanmar it is considered to be rare, and its numbers are probably suppressed due to hunting pressure.

In their 2014 assessment, IUCN listed the Bharal as occurring in the following territories: Bhutan, China (Gansu, Ningxia-Inner Mongolia border, Qinghai, Sichuan, Tibet, southeastern Xinjiang, and northern Yunnan), northern India, northern Myanmar, Nepal, and northern Pakistan.


Fig 1 :
A lone male on a sparsely vegetated, rocky ridge.

Fig 2 : A male and female pair in a rocky gully, feeding on small clumps of dried grass.

All photos from Ladakh, northern India.  Photos thanks to Alan Morrison.


References : M5

Rabinowitz, A., & Saw, T. K.  (1998). Status of selected mammal species in North Myanmar. Oryx, 32(3), 201-208.