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Altina Wildlife Park

Barbary Sheep (Ammotragus lervia

Habitat:

Found in Northern Africa , Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan & Northern Chad, with introduced populations in south-eastern Spain and South-western United States, Mexico and various parts of Africa. They inhabit rough, rock, barren waterless desert mountains.

Description:

Barbary Sheep are a sandy-brown colour which darkens with age and a slightly lighter underbelly with a darker line along their back. They have shaggy long hairs on their throat, chest and upper part of their forelegs. Their horns sweep out, back and in and can measure up to 50cm in length. Both males and females have horns with the male’s horns being much    larger. Males can reach a height of up to 100cm and a weight of up to 140kgs with females being slightly smaller.

Status:

Vulnerable

Interesting facts:

  • The Scientific Name Ammotragus translates to ‘Sand Goat’ in Greek but are in fact more related to sheep than goats.
  • Barbary Sheep are very agile and can achieve a jump of over 2 metres from a stand still.
  • Barbary Sheep escape predators by sprinting at full speed and coming to a complete stop remaining motionless, confusing predators and blending in with their surroundings.
  • Diet: Grasses, flowers, young plants, herbaceous plants and stunted bushes. They retain sufficient water from vegetation and dew condensed on leaves going for long periods without water.
  • Group Structure: They live in small family groups comprising of an adult male and females with their variously aged offspring.
  • They are excellent sure-footed jumpers and climbers.
  • They are the only wild sheep species in Africa.
  • Reproduction: Barbary sheep reach sexual maturity at 1.5yrs of age, they can breed at any time of the year but peak breeding season is between September to November where 1-3 kids are born, with twins being quite common. The kids are weaned off their mothers milk at 3-4 months of age.
  • Gestation: approximately 160 days, females can give birth twice a year.
  • Males fight for the right to breed by running at each other at 50-60km/h for a head butt.
  • Lifespan: 15 – 20 years.

 

 

 

Barbary Sheep Population Distribution Map
Barbary Sheep Population Distribution Map