Altai Mountain Ram
Sheep are animals known for their stubborn nature and unwavering spirit to go forward. The most famous representative of this type of animal is the Altai mountain sheep.
Characteristic of Altai Mountain Ram
This breed is the largest of all possible subspecies of the Arkhar ram. Today it is considered to have almost disappeared in its pure form, and hybrids of the Altai breed with domestic sheep are valuable specimens.
Position in society
Due to the fact that Altai mountain sheep almost disappeared from the face of the earth, they were given the first category, because in the near future the breed may simply cease to exist.
That is why the Altai mountain sheep is listed in the Red Book. It was registered there back in the days of the USSR and the RSFSR and is still under the strict protection of the reserve.
Individuals are the largest horned species, in addition, this breed is famous for the fact that males have large and massive horns.
The body structure of the animal is quite strong, the skeleton and muscles are well developed, the rams are large and strong. The male reaches a height of more than 122 cm at the withers, and the female - 114 cm. These 10 cm differences are sometimes difficult to notice, since often the females and males are about the same height. In kilograms, the male is very different from the female: the female can weigh as much as 102-104 kg, while the male can weigh 200-210 kg. Both representatives of the Altai mountain sheep clan have horns.
Sheep of Altai breed are distinguished by massive horns.
Horns are the pride of this breed. In old sheep, they can reach more than 152 cm, while their girth will be 56 cm, and they will weigh 23-24 kg. Of course, the females have less horns and they are not as dangerous as the horns of a male. On average, the length of the horns of a female can reach 120-130 cm. At the same time, their girth is 25-35 cm and their weight is from 10 to 15 kg. They change color depending on the season. Usually the body cover is brown or brown closer to the cold, and in the spring-summer it changes to light with an admixture of gray and red tones.
In this species, the belly and back of the body are always a little lighter. In this case, white and gray shades predominate, sometimes with an admixture of red color. Experts noted that the old representatives of this species are often much darker than everyone else in the pen. In summer, the molting period is characteristic of animals, and they can also change their colors during this period from light, almost white, to a murky red shade. At such moments, the rams can be a little aggressive, as their skin is very itchy due to the molting period. A detailed description will help to understand all the intricacies.
Today Altai mountain sheep live in 3 small areas in different parts of the world. Each territory is carefully guarded. You can meet these amazing animals:
- on the border between countries such as Mongolia and China;
- on a relatively small ridge Saylyugem;
- in the Chulshman mountains.
The main place of residence and breeding of this species are steep mountains and mountain steppes. Some lucky ones say they saw them on the slopes of the mountains above the sea at an altitude of 2-3 thousand m.
Habitats of a mountain Altai ram
They do not need any forest or other vegetation: they like the usual shrubs of birch from the subspecies are round-leaved, willows. But because of their great love for this plant, they almost completely ate it; as a result, birches are also considered a missing plant in the territory of the pen. Basically, today in the places of residence of this species there are such cultures:
- small grass cereals;
- cereal and bean;
These are the 3 main components that mainly make up the nutritious diet of wild species and are the main means of survival. In hot periods, these animals can eat 2-3 times a day, but, surprisingly, they are suitable for watering 1-2 times for 3 days.
The number of individuals and how the situation has changed
At the end of the 18th century, mountain sheep were spotted on the Tigiretsky ridge and nearby mountain ranges. Then, at the beginning of the XIX century, they were said to live in the mountains, which are located near the Argut River and on the Chulshman Plateau.
Already at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century they said that they again moved, this time to Saylyugem. At first, the number of Altai sheep was 600 individuals, then the number dropped sharply to 230-245. In 1995, there were 320, including adults and cubs.
Possible limiting factors
The first fact that experts single out is the anthropogenic influence in various manifestations. Today, the leadership step is occupied by the direct rejection (ousting) of argali from their native places of residence. In turn, goats and yaks give little chance to mountain sheep in the ability to well master the territory of pastures in difficult places, which are quite difficult to reach, and, as a result, completely, they are pushed to absolutely barren mountain peaks. The number of livestock exceeds all available limits of possibilities and real possibilities of pasture, which in turn leads to degradation. As a result, the feeding and subsistence of wild animals is greatly deteriorated.
The second factor affecting the amount of argali is the extent of poaching. Even though the animals are protected, some still manage to kill them. They shoot animals in almost all territories of their habitat. Significant role in the whole process was played by large geological exploration work, which was carried out in the 70-80s close to the habitats and food of the rams, because of which they could not get enough food.
The last factor that has influenced the population quite strongly and which people cannot control is the weather. The past few decades have become too difficult a period for animals. Today, their death from natural conditions, especially in winter, has increased critically. Due to the fact that animals cannot find food for themselves, it is difficult for them to overcome the mountain slopes, already in the middle of the cold period they begin to die. All these factors significantly affected the population of these animals. Soon this can lead to the complete extinction of the species.
They tried to breed the described species in zoos in Germany and America, but animals always died, having lived for several months, or even days. The maximum representative of the Argali clan lived in captivity for 6 years at the Biological Institute of Siberia, Russia.
Obviously, mountain sheep should be kept close to their natural habitat, or similar conditions should be created to provide good care. Rocks stick together, forming large herds. Females always walk separately. Males always try to walk so that in any situation they have the opportunity to protect their females and cubs.
Usually, the mating season begins in November, the female carries the cubs for 5 months, and already in the first days of May gives birth to only one lamb. Argali lambs are born completely independent and immediately get to their feet.
Altai mountain sheep are a breed that is on the verge of extinction. It is unique due to its size: its representatives have large body mass and voluminous horns. Individuals live only on high rocks.