Ammotragus lervia 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Ammotragus lervia (Pallas, 1777)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Aoudad, Barbary Sheep, Uaddan
French Mouflon À Manchettes
Taxonomic Notes: Six subspecies have been described (Ansell 1972; summarized in Cassinello in press). However, the morphological differences between them are not well defined, and there are several apparent zones of hybridization, evidence of an urgent need for the reassessment of subspecies (Cassinello in press).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable C1 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Cassinello, J., Cuzin, F., Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I. & de Smet, K.
Reviewer(s): Festa-Bianchet, M. & Harris, R. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
Listed as Vulnerable as the total population size is in the order of 5,000-10,000 individuals, and it is estimated that a decline in excess of 10% will occur over the coming 15 years (three generations) mainly as a result of hunting and habitat loss.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Auodad was formerly widespread in rugged and mountainous terrain from deserts and semi-deserts to open forests in North Africa, but has suffered a strong decline due to poaching and competition from domestic stock. The ranges of the six supposed subspecies can be summarized as follows (following Cassinello in press, and references therein):

Ammotragus lervia lervia (Atlas Aoudad) occurs in the mountains of Morocco, except the western half of the Rif, and in northern Algeria and northern Tunisia.

A. l. ornata (Egyptian Aoudad) was formerly quite widespread throughout the Eastern and Western Desert of Egypt and was actually thought extinct (see Amer 1997). However, Wacher et al. (2002) reported evidence of the presence of Aoudad in both the Elba Protected Area and the Western Desert between 1997 and 2000 (and see Manlius et al. 2003).

A. l. blainei (Kordofan Aoudad) were once relatively widespread from west Sudan to the Red Sea coast, but currently are probably restricted to the Red Sea hills of east Sudan (Nimir 1997). Contrary to Mekonlau and Daboulaye (1997), this is the subspecies that may occur in the Ennedi and Uweinat mountains in northeast Chad (Alados et al. 1988). It may also be present in southeastern Libya.

A. l. fassini (Libyan Aoudad) is found only in extreme southern Tunisia and in Libya.

A. l. angusi (Aïr Aoudad) inhabit the Aïr Massif (Niger) and Termit Massif (Niger).

A. l. sahariensis (Saharan Aoudad) has the largest range of the subspecies, including southern Morocco and Western Sahara, southern Algeria, south-west Libya, Sudan, the mountains of the Adrar de Iforas in Mali, Niger, Mauritania, and the Tibesti Massif. There were no reliable reports of the species in the Western Sahara since the surveys of Valverde (1957), but the possibility of their survival in the Oued El Dahab was noted by Aulagnier and Thévenot (1997), and the species was recently rediscovered in this country (Cuzin 2003; Cuzin et al. in press).

Auodad have been introduced into the United States, northern Mexico, Spain (mainland and the Canary Islands (La Palma)) (Gray and Simpson 1980; Grubb 2005). These introduced populations are not mapped.

The species occurs from 200 to 4,100 m asl (Cuzin 2003).
Countries occurrence:
Algeria; Chad; Egypt; Libya; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Niger; Sudan; Tunisia
Mexico; Spain (Canary Is.); United States
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):200
Upper elevation limit (metres):4100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:There are no total estimates of population size, but overall indications are that the population is in the order of 5,000-10,000 individuals.

The total population in Morocco is estimated to be between 800 and 2,000 animals (Cuzin et al. in press), and there are several thousand animals in Algeria. Low numbers survive in Chad, Mauritania and Adrar des Iforas in Mali; there are no estimates in Libya, Western Sahara, or Tunisia. In Niger, estimates are available for the Air and Tenere National Nature Reserve (3,500 animals) and outside the reserve (700). These populations in the Air mountains appear to be increasing, but for the country as a whole the population trend is overall downward. There are no population estimates available for Sudan, but the species is generally regarded as very rare and almost certainly declining (Shackleton 1997; and references therein). Once regarded as extinct, Aoudads seem to be locally numerous in the Eastern and Western Deserts of Egypt (M.A. Saleh, in Cassinello in press).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:5000-10000
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Aoudads tend to inhabit rocky and often precipitous areas, from near sea level up to snow-free areas at about 4,100 m (such as the Moroccan Atlas). They also require rocks or sparse tree cover for shade, and might wander far from water sources for long periods of time. This species is a generalist herbivore combining grazing with browsing, and can survive without drinking water for long periods (even years), eating succulent forbs. They probably make small migratory movements in relation to food availability (Cassinello in press).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The major threats across the range include poaching and habitat destruction, mainly from livestock grazing, fuelwood collection, and from drought and desertification. In the Western Sahara, hunting by soldiers has been a serious threat, and here the species might already be extinct (Valverde 1968). The decline of Egyptian Barbary Sheep has no doubt been accelerated by competition with livestock and feral camels. The availability and distribution of waterholes would likely be a major factor in the condition of populations, and both may fluctuate from year to year.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Algeria

Aoudad occur in four protected areas in Algeria: Belezma, Tassili n’Ajjer, and Ahaggar National Parks, and in Djebel Aissa State Forest (De Smet 1997).

Priority conservation measures proposed include: 1) Establishing more reserves in the north if the species is to survive in the Saharan Atlas range; 2) Reintroducing Aoudad into Djelfa Hunting Reserve (20,000 ha; est. 1974) located in the Haut Plateau (34°40’N, 3°15'E), and into Tlemcen Hunting Reserve (400 ha) in north-west Algeria between Oran and Oujda (34°52'N, l°15'E).


In Chad, Aoudad are present in the Fada-Archei Faunal Reserve (La Reserve de Faune de Fada Archei) in north-eastern Chad. This was established to preserve Aoudad and other desert species in 1967. Unfortunately, conditions have been difficult in this region since 1972, as a result of political instability and the conflict with Libya. Poaching in the reserve probably takes place and there are military personnel stationed at the nearby town of Fada (Mekonlaou and Daboulaye 1997).

Priority conservation measures proposed include: 1) carrying out surveys in the Tibesti and Ennedi mountains, and elsewhere to determine current numbers and actual distributions; 2) consider establishing a protected area, preferably a national park or at least a faunal reserve, in the Tibesti mountains; and 3) improve the levels of protection, especially anti-poaching efforts, staffing and support for Fada-Archei Fauna1 Reserve, as with other protected areas in the country.


Aoudad have recently been confirmed as occurring in Gebel Elba Conservation Area (48,000 ha; est. 1986). Assiut University Protected Area was originally set aside in the 1930s to protect Aoudad, but there are no recent reports of the species’ presence (Amer 1997).

Conservation measures proposed include: 1) survey areas previously known to be inhabited by the species; and 2) evaluate the habitat along with the potential for re-introductions.


It is not known whether Aoudad are protected by law. The species was introduced into Tripoli Nature Reserve (870 ha; est. 1978). It may also occur in Jabel Nefhusa Nature Reserve (20,000 ha; est. 1978) in northern Libya in the Jebel Tarabulus range of the Jebel Nefhusa mountains (Tripolitania Region 32°N, 12°50'E), although this reserve does not appear to fall within the suspected distribution of the species (Shackleton and De Smet 1997). There are captive populations in Sabratha, Surman and the Zoological Garden of Tripoli (T. Jdeidi pers. comm.). The latter definitely belongs to the subspecies A. l. fassini.

A population survey is needed to determine the current distribution and status of Aoudad in Libya.


Aoudad receive no protection nor occur in any protected areas in Mali (Lamarche 1997).

Proposed conservation measures include: 1) conduct censuses and surveys to determine population numbers and distribution within the Adrar des Iforas; and 2) consider the feasibility of establishing a protected area for Aoudad in this region.


Aoudad occur in one protected area in Adrar Mouflon Partial Faunal Reserve (Lamarche 1997).

Conservation measures proposed include censuses to determine current numbers and distribution.


Since 1958, the annual ministerial order regulating hunting has severely restricted taking Aoudad. For example, in 1961 the species could be hunted for only three days, and only one day in 1966. Since 1966, the species is fully and permanently protected. Aoudad occur in four protected areas in Morocco, including Eastern High Atlas National Park, Toubkal National Park, and the adjacent Takherkhort Hunting Reserve (1,230 ha). The latter, situated in the western High Atlas mountains, was established in 1967 to preserve the species. Although around 350 to 475 animals occupy the hunting reserve (Mokhtari 2006), grazing by livestock is a serious threat. Animals from the reserve have been used for re-introductions to other areas, including Sochatour’s Tiradine Hunting Reserve. The native vegetation is evergreen oak forest, and the Aoudad is reported to be reproducing, and numbered around 70 animals in 1990. Aoudad also inhabit a number of other hunting reserves, most of which are so small that they are occupied only seasonally and have little significance for conservation of the species (Aulagnier and Thevenot 1997).

The most important conservation measures proposed include: 1) Surveys to determine the status and distribution of Aoudad in Morocco; 2) Increasing the number of protected areas. Among the most valuable and interesting natural places where Aoudad need protection, three or four national parks or permanent reserves can be proposed: Jbel Grouz and Jbel Maiz (arid hills near Figuig), Jbel Bou Iblane or Jbel Bou Nasser (eastern Middle Atlas), and some areas of rocky argan bush in the Anti-Atlas (between Igherm and Tata); and 3) Hunting and grazing should be strictly forbidden in protected areas.


All hunting has been banned since 1964 and though this law is enforced by the Nigerien Forest Service, the vast range occupied by the Aoudad, together with manpower limitations and political unrest, limit the effectiveness of anti-poaching efforts. Aoudad only occur in one protected area in Niger, in the vast Reserve Naturelle Nationale de L’Air et du Tenere, in north-central Niger. Created in January 1988, the reserve covers 7,737,000 ha of Saharan desert and Sahara-montane habitat. The reserve may harbor as much as 70% of the total population of Aoudad in Niger (Magin and Newby 1997)


Aoudad fall under Schedule II as a protected species, though up to two can be shot by anyone with a class A or D license. None occur in any protected area in the Sudan (Nimir 1997).

Conservation measures proposed include: 1) move Aoudad to Schedule I so that it is completely protected; and 2) re-introduction of Aoudad to remaining areas and habitats which are suitable.


In Tunisia, Aoudad has been protected by law since 1966. A re-introduction of Aoudad into the Djebel Chambi National Park began in 1987, when ten animals, originally from Kasserine, were released into a one ha enclosure for later release into the rest of the park. Some of these animals escaped in 1988, and the wild population now numbers 100 animals (DGF 2005). A few animals are held in captivity in the Djebel Bou Hedma National Park, in the Bou Hedma ranges of the Atlas Saharien. Animals are also believed to occur in the proposed Dghoumes National Park (De Smet 1997), and the species was also released in the Oued Dekouk Nature Reserve, south of Tataouine.

Priority conservation measures proposed include: 1) ensuring the establishment of the new desert national park 50 km east of Tozeur at Dghoumes (this area and the rest of the mountain chain north of the Chott El Fedjadj and Chott El Djerid, are considered good Aoudad habitat); and 2) reconsider the suggestion to release Aoudad into Sidi Toui National Park because the topography is probably too flat to be suitable for them.

Western Sahara

The most important conservation measures proposed include: 1) Surveys to determine whether or not this species surivives in Western Sahara, and if so, to ascertain its status and distribution; 2) Establishing a protected area for the species if there is a surviving population (for example, in Oued Ed Dahab Province); and 3) Strict control of hunting and of grazing where this species survives.

Listed in CITES Appendix II.

Citation: Cassinello, J., Cuzin, F., Jdeidi, T., Masseti, M., Nader, I. & de Smet, K. 2008. Ammotragus lervia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T1151A3288917. . Downloaded on 18 September 2018.
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