Barbary Sheep (Aoudad)
The Barbary Sheep or Aoudad is classified as a vulnerable species and is becoming rare to find in its native North America. The name Aoudad is commonly used by the Berber people – a desert tribe of North Africa who made this sheep popular. The Barbary Sheep is a large, desert type sheep that is easily identified by its vast horns that make it sought after by hunters. The horns extend up to 55cm/22 inches in a semi-circular curve over its back. Both the ram and ewe have horns, while those of the male are slightly bigger than those of the female. The base of the horn is triangular shaped and it is covered in numerous fine rings that gradually wear off with age. The Barbary Sheep has dense, thick, bristled, and reddish to sandy brown coat with lighter under-parts that cover a very thick and robust body. They all grow a beard and a thick fringe of hair on their throat, but that of the male extends past the neck and chest and down its front legs. They have a long, square face, with a longer snout than regular sheep and their ears are long and pointed. They resemble more of a mountain goat than a sheep, but are not as smelly as goats. Barbary sheet have a long body, between 130-165 cm/4.3-5.5 ft, with a shoulder height of 75-110 cm/2.5-3.7 ft and they can weigh anything between 30-145 kg/66-319 lb. They have a fringed tails that is 15-20 cm/6-8 in. long. Although this sheep is becoming more and more difficult to find in its native North Africa, introduced populations in Spain and the southern United States are flourishing.
Barbary Sheep are a desert type of sheep that is native to countries in northern Africa and are found in Algeria, Tunisia, northern Chad, Egypt, Libya, northern Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger and Sudan. They prefer rugged arid, rocky areas and are able to forage for food in very sparsely vegetated area. Barbary Sheep were introduced into 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 in the 1950s and they are thriving in these areas.
Barbary Sheep can be found in the arid mountainous areas grazing and browsing on sparse grasses, bushes, acacia tress and lichens. They are able to obtain all their moisture from food, but when water is available they will drink at liberty.
Barbary Sheep are considered by hunters as one of the most challenging species to hunt. This is mainly due to the fact that they are agile and athletic, they have excellent vision and they are very wary of people, which make them difficult to get close to. Young Barbary Sheep have lean meat that is succulent and delicious with a taste similar to that of veal. The meat of the mature animal is tough and not very palatable.
Barbary Sheep are generally solitary animals or they are found in small groups. They are most active during early hours of the morning and in the late afternoon and avoid the midday heat by taking shade and resting during hotter parts of the day. They conceal themselves in the presence of danger, by freezing in motion in order to remain unnoticed. They are very strong and powerful with the ability of easily jumping over a 2-meter/6.6 foot obstacle from a standing start. Females are able to give birth twice a year with their main breeding periods being between September and November or between March and May. They have a gestation period of 160 days and usually only give birth to 1 kid, but occasionally up to 3 young can be born. The young are weaned at 3-4 months and reach sexual maturity after 18 months. Barbary Sheep have a life span of 20 years. In the past leopard, lion and caracal used to be their primary predators, but nowadays only humans are a threat to their population.
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