Tuesday 21 May
Mouflon (Ovis orientalis)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
Mouflon fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
The males of this exceedingly wary wild sheep have large sickle-shaped horns, which are prized by many a trophy hunter. For most subspecies, females also have horns, but they are much smaller than the horns of the males. In a few populations, most or all females do not grow horns (4). The different subspecies vary slightly in overall appearance; colour also varies with season and between males and females. The face is generally greyish with a white muzzle, nostrils and inside of the ears. The legs are long and slender with a vertical black line below the knees (5) (6). Mouflon have a white belly and a coat that varies in colour from grey with a reddish tinge to brown and coffee coloured, while male European mouflon (O. o. musimon) are dark chestnut and females are beige (5). The adult rams tend to develop a substantial chest ruff of long, coarse hair, which tends to be white in the throat region, turning to black as it extends down to the forelegs (6). In most of the mouflon subspecies the males also have a lighter coloured saddle patch, which develops and increases in size as they get older and a black stripe, which begins midway along the nape of the neck and along the shoulders before continuing under the body, ending behind the back legs (5). Mouflon have large glands beneath the eye, which often exudes a sticky substance that mats the hair (6).
- Also known as
- Mouflón De Chypre.
- Muflón De Chipre. Top
IUCN Species Specialist Group - Caprinae:
- The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
IUCN Red List (January, 2008)
- Macdonald, D.W. (2006) Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University press, Oxford.
CITES (January, 2008)
- Festa-Bianchet, M. (2008) Pers. comm.
CITES Species Identification Manual (January, 2008)
Wildlife of Pakistan (January, 2008)
- Ptak, G., Clinton, M., Barboni, B., Muzzeddu, M., Cappai, P., Tischner, M. and Loi, P. (2002) Preservation of the wild European mouflon: The first example of genetic management using a complete program of reproductive biotechnologies. Biology of Reproduction, 66: 796 - 801.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Mouflon tend to feed early in the morning and in the evening, resting during the day under an overhanging bush or rock, where they are well hidden. Mouflon are gregarious and form non-territorial herds grazing on grasses, unless food is scarce when they will turn to browsing leaves and fruits. The senses are well developed as the sheep are dependent on early detection of, and flight from, approaching predators, particularly leopard, wolf and jackal. Mouflon have an average life span of between eight and ten years for males and ten to twelve years for females and reach sexual maturity at about two to three years, although in populations with low hunting pressure, males are unlikely to reproduce before four years of age (4). Females usually give birth to a single lamb (occasionally twins) after a gestation period of five to six months (6).Top
Mouflon are found throughout various countries in central Asia, from Turkey in the west, to Pakistan in the east (1).Subspecies are found throughout the area but some are more restricted in range than others, for example, O. o. isphahanica (Esfahan mouflon) and O. o. laristanica (Laristan mouflon) are restricted to Iran and O. o. vignei (Ladahk urial) occurs in India and Pakistan (1).
Populations are also found in a number of Mediterranean countries which are thought to be the result of introduction by people during the last few centuries, originating from Corsica or Sardinia. It is believed they are descendents of feral sheep and have been widely introduced as an exotic to many countries (4).Top
Generally found in mountainous areas with both grasslands and desert, although in Europe mouflon have also been introduced into forested areas (1). Mouflon occur up to 3,000 metres above sea level and prefer the gentler slopes of the higher mountain ranges with a reasonable amount of cover, and use steep precipitous regions to avoid predators (4).Top
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and a number of subspecies are listed on CITES (3). The taxonomy of the mouflon is very complex and there is no general consensus on how many separate species and subspecies there are. Many scientists recognise two separate species: the Urial (Ovis vignei) and the Mouflon (Ovis gmelini) together with a number of subspecies (4). However, at present the IUCN Red List recognises the mouflon as one species (1). The unresolved taxonomy is a problem for conservation as specimens are often hard to identify, and hybrids exist naturally (4).Top
The mouflon is threatened by the expansion of agriculture and farming, resulting in a reduction in population numbers and dispersal into small, fragmented groups. The expansion of sheep farming throughout their range has resulted in overgrazing and erosion, reducing the amount of suitable habitat for the mouflon. O. o. cycloceros (Afghan mouflon) avoids mountainous terrain and therefore competes directly with livestock. Consequently hunting pressure is high, resulting in a fragmented distribution. Contagious diseases and parasites from domestic livestock, particularly domestic sheep, are a major threat in many areas (4). Adult rams are poached for the trophy value of their horns and lambs are sometimes taken at birth to be kept as pets (1).Top
Few conservation measures for the mouflon have been documented and the successes of those which have been are unknown. Three of the mouflon subspecies are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), forbidding international trade. However, national trade is still allowed and poaching remains a problem. The Punjab government, in Pakistan, has declared 12 protected areas within the range of the mouflon, and there is one game reserve which is managed by the community, but enforcement is poor and there is still no restriction on domestic livestock (1). Outright protection of certain areas may seem like the best option, but in many areas this is not feasible due to human settlements and pasture. It is thought that without enforced protection efforts, numbers of this wild sheep will continue to decline and subspecies will be lost (7).Top
Find out more
For further information on the mouflon see:
Authenticated (31/01/2008) by Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet, Chair of IUCN/SSC Caprinae Specialist Group.
More »Related species
Play the Team WILD game
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.