Capra caucasica 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Bovidae

Scientific Name: Capra caucasica
Species Authority: Güldenstädt & Pallas, 1783
Common Name(s):
English Western Tur, West Caucasian Tur, Tur
Taxonomic Notes: It is still unclear whether or not Capra caucasica and Capra cylindricornis are two separate species (as followed here), or are a single species with geographically dependent variability (P. Weinberg pers. comm.).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2ad ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Weinberg, P.
Reviewer(s): Festa-Bianchet, M. & Harris, R. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
Listed as Endangered because of a serious population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over the last three generations (estimated at 21 years), inferred from an observed reduction in the number of mature individuals, especially due to over-harvesting.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the western part of the Great Caucasus Mountains in Georgia and Russia. Its range stretches in a narrow stripe from Tchugush Mountain massif (apprroximately 44ºN, 39º45'E) to the Balkar Cherek River headwaters on the north slope and Inguri River headwaters on the south slope (appr. 43ºN, 42º50'E), just east of the Mount Elbrus massif (Dinnik, 1910; Heptner et al., 1961; Kotov, 1966; Tsalkin, 1955; Vereshchagin, 1959). The present length of the range hardly exceeds 250 km. The distribution reaches its maximal width near Mount. Elbrus - up to 70 km. Thus, the range of the West Caucasian tur is the smallest one among all the genus Capra.
Countries occurrence:
Georgia; Russian Federation
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):800
Upper elevation limit (metres):4000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The total population estimate in the late 1980s was ca. 12,000 animals (Weinberg et al., 1997), but in recent years numbers have been declining significantly (P. Weinberg, unpubl. data). In 2001, numbers were estimated at 6,000-10,000 (Krever et al., 2001), but the latest available data indicate about 2,500 in the Caucasus Nature Reserve (Romashin, 2001), up to 1,000 animals in Teberda Nature Reserve, with probably few animals outside it (Bobyr, 2002), and approximately 1,000 tur in Svaneti region in Georgia (NACRES, 2006). The total population was given at 5,000-6,000 animals by Weinberg (2004), and might now be lower.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:4000-6000
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The habitat and ecology of western and eastern tur do not differ noticeably. Western tur are more influenced by high precipitation and heavy snow cover. They mostly inhabit subalpine and alpine zones between 800 and 4,000 m asl. They rarely live in forests outside snowy season, probably because forest in the West Caucasus is composed predominantly of fir and spruce and forms closed stands. Where pine are more abundant, Western tur stay more readily in forests (Bobyr, 2002). During the region's harsh winters, tur concentrate on sunny slopes, with 30 to 80% of the animals staying below timberline; during the summer, tur expand their distribution to slopes of different exposures (Kotov, 1968; Bobyr, 2002).

At high population densities, summer herd size average 11.7 animals, while in winter this rises to 20.3 individuals (Kotov, 1968). Population densities in summer may reach 13 animals/km², more than tripling in wintering areas to 44 animals/km² (Kotov, 1968). The sex ratio usually favors females (Kotov, 1968; Bobyr, 2002; Romashin, 2001).

The rut lasts from mid-November until the beginning of January; birthing season takes place in May-July. Only one kid is born. One month after parturition, average proportion of kids is 13%, but yearlings only 5-9% (Bobyr, 2002; Kotov, 1968; Romashin, 2001; Zalikhanov, 1967). Western tur are preyed upon by wolf (Canis lupus) and lynx (Lynx lynx), but snow avalanches cause most natural deaths (Bobyr, 2002; Kotov, 1968; Zalikhanov, 1967). The leopard (Panthera pardus), while formerly a major predator of C. caucasica, is now very rare in the Caucasus.

Western tur coexist with chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), dominating the latter throughout the year (Kotov, 1968; Romashin, 2001). The proportions of kids in the populations are mutually negatively correlated in both species, but more markedly so in chamois (Romashin, 2001). The diet of C. caucasica contains over a hundred recorded species of plants, especially grasses. In winter, animals often browse on pine, spruce and willow. Salt licks are visited mostly in the end of spring to beginning of summer (Bobyr, 2002; Kotov, 1968; Zalikhanov, 1967).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is hunted heavily for food by local human communities.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Livestock grazing and poaching are the major threats to the western tur, combined with the impacts of severe winters. Poaching is probably the most significant cause of the recently observed serious declines. Livestock grazing results in competition for resources, especially with domestic sheep and goats. The species is also impacted by habitat loss and degradation (Weinberg et al., 1997).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed in Karachai-Circassia Red Data Book (1988). This tur is protected in the Caucasus Nature Reserve (Russia), which has played a major part in its conservation (Bannikov, 1977). It also occurs in the Teberda Nature Reserve (Karachai-Circassia, Russia). It has been reported from Pskhu-Gumista and Ritsa Nature Reserves in Georgia, but recent surveys indicate that it is no longer present there (P. Weinberg pers. comm.). Hunting under license is permitted in some areas. The most useful conservation measure at present would be to increase the level and effectiveness of protection in existing reserves, because organization of new ones seems improbable for the time being.

Citation: Weinberg, P. 2008. Capra caucasica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T3794A10088217. . Downloaded on 20 January 2017.
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