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Ovis orientalis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA CETARTIODACTYLA BOVIDAE

Scientific Name: Ovis orientalis
Species Authority: Gmelin, 1774
Common Name(s):
English Mouflon, Red Sheep, Cyprian Wild Sheep, Cyprus Mouflon, Urial
French Mouflón De Chypre
Spanish Muflón De Chipre
Synonym(s):
Ovis vignei Blyth, 1841
Taxonomic Notes: The Domestic Sheep and its wild ancestor the Urial are treated here as separate species (following inter alia Shackleton 1997), called Ovis aries and Ovis orientalis respectively. These taxa are sometimes considered to be conspecific, in which case the name Ovis orientalis has generally been used to refer to the wild species and its domesticated form, although some authors use the name Ovis aries for both the wild species and its domestic descendants (see Gentry et al. 1996, BZN 2003, Gentry et al. 2004 and Wilson and Reeder 2005).

"Wild sheep" and "wild goats" found on Mediterranean islands are generally recognized to have been introduced by humans (Shackleton 1997, Wilson and Reeder 2005), and genetic and archaeozoological studies suggest that they are feral populations of ancient domestic stocks (e.g., Groves 1989, Vigne 1994, Hiendleder et al. 1998, Manceau et al. 1999, Kahila bar-Gal et al. 2002). Consequently, such taxa should be included in the respective domestic species (Capra hircus, Ovis aries) and not as subspecies of the wild taxa (as proposed by Gentry et al. 1996, Gentry et al. 2004, and Gippoliti and Amori 2004).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Valdez, R.
Reviewer(s): Harris, R. & Festa-Bianchet, M. (Caprinae Red List Authority)
Justification:
This species probably is listed as Vulnerable under criterion A2cde because it is believed to be declining by at least 30% over three generations (set at 24 years) due to hunting, hybridization and habitat deterioration.
History:
1996 Vulnerable (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
1996 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species occurs as Urial or Arkar in Afghanistan, northwestern India (Kashmir), northeastern and southeastern Iran, southwestern Kazakhstan, Oman (where it is possibly introduced), Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Intermediate Laristan sheep occur in southern Iran, and Mouflon are found in Armenia, southern Azerbaijan, northern Iraq, western Iran, and eastern Turkey, with an isolated population in south-central Turkey.

The subspecies are distributed as follows:

Ovis orientalis isphahanica
Restricted to a very small area directly southwest of Esfahan in east-central Iran.

Ovis orientalis laristanica
This sheep is a resident of southern and southeastern Iran. The purest Laristan sheep are found in Hormod Protected Area, whereas those east of 55°E in the Khabr and Baft mountains in Kerman Province have been suggested to be hybrid populations – Kerman sheep (Ovis vignei blanforcti x Ovis gmelinii laristanica).

Ovis orientalis arkal
Found in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan where it inhabits the ravines surrounding the Ustyurt plateau and Kaplankyr, and on the Mangyshlak Peninsula where it is found in the moderately high mountains of Karatau, the precipices and ravines of Northern Aktau (all in Mangysklan and to the south to Kara-Bogaz-gol) and similar habitat in Karagie, Kaunda, Kazakhla, Kulandaga, Kazakhly-Sora and other areas. This urial also occurs on rolling hills and on gentle mountain slopes in northeast Iran. The purest form of this urial is found in Golestan, Gorkhod, Serany and Tandoreh Protected Areas (see also Armenian mouflon Ovis orientalis gmehii above). The population was estimated to be at least 20,000 animals in the mid-1970s (Valdez and DeForge, 1985), of which around 15,000 were estimated to inhabit Golestan National Park alone (Kiabi, 1978).

Ovis orientalis bocharensis
Bukhara urial occurs in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It is found on the north sides of the Amu Darya and Panj rivers, where it inhabits the Kugitang and Baisuntau mountains, the Babatagh and Karatau ranges, the Vakhsh range on the east bank of the Vakhsh river, and the southwestern part of the Pamir (Luzhevsky, 1977; Sapozhnikov, 1976). The taxonomic status of the last population is uncertain; it may belong to Ladakh urial (O. o. vignei).

Ovis orientalis cycloceros
Found in Turkmenistan, where its distribution stretches south-eastwards in scattered populations from the Large (about 39°40’N and 54°30’E) and Small Balkhan mountains north of Nebit-Dagh, through the Kopet-Dagh mountains, in the mountains on the right bank of the Tejen, in an area between the Kushka and Murgab rivers, and in the ravines and rolling hills of Namansaar, Yer Oilanduz (Badkhyz) as far east as Southern Karabil (about 36°20’N and 64°30’N). Urial populations were known to occur throughout the Hindu Kush and the mountains of central Afghanistan, extending from the Zebak mountains in the north to the Seyah Koh range in the southwest. The largest concentration was in the Ajar Valley Reserve, from where animals were known to migrate into distant valleys near the Band-e Amir National Park. Its presence was established in the Zebak ranges during 1976 surveys, but it was not known how far the species ranged into Badakshan. East of Kabul, the urial was found in the Kohe Safi region of Kapisa Province (Petocz, 1973). Specimens collected from hunters show that its range extended towards the Lataband Pass area near Kabul. The sub-species was also reported from the Safed Koh range in Heart and Badghis Provinces. For Pakistan, a distribution map for this urial in the North West Frontier Province is given by Malik (1987). It shows the occurrence of the subspecies in the Districts of Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Northern Waziristan, Karak, Kohat, Orakzai, Kurram, Peshawar, Mardan, Abbottabad, and Swat. Malik (1987) described the populations as being extremely scattered and at low densities in the Districts of Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Kohat, Abbottabad and lower -Swat. Urial densities in the Tribal lands are believed to be slightly higher. It is not certain whether animals inhabiting the hills along the west bank of the Indus (Districts Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan) are Afghan or Punjab urial (Schaller and Mirza 1974). Data for animals in this area are included in this account. Urial are widely distributed up to 2,750 m on gentler slopes of the major mountain ranges in Baluchistan. According to the most recent report by Roberts (1985), these include the Chiltan hills (Districts of Quetta and Kalat), the Hinglaj ranges (District Khuzdar), the Karhan hills (District Karhan), the Mekran Coast ranges (District Gwadar), the Takatu hills (Districts of Pishin and Quetta) and the Toba Kakar range (Districts of Pishin and Zhob). On a map published by the Zoological Survey Department (no date) additional areas are indicated: Kirthar range (Districts of Dadu and Las Bela), the mountains north of Nok Kundi (District Chagae), Takht-i-Sulaiman (Districts of Zhob and South Waziristan), the western edge of the Indus at Kalabagh (District Mianwali), the Mahsud mountains (Districts of North and South Warizistan), and the Marri mountains (District Kohlu). The last four areas lie within the distribution area for the subspecies given by Schaller (1977), but were not mentioned in Roberts’ (1985) more recent report. Because of the different and partially contradictory information of the above authors, it appears that the actual knowledge on the status and distribution of Afghan urial north of 32°N is inadequate. The most recent distribution map is given in Virk (1991). In Sind, the Afghan urial occurs in the Kirthar mountains, especially in the Mari-Mangthar range (District Karachi) and in Dumbar, Kambuh and Karchat mountains (District Dadu).

Ovis orientalis gmelinii
This sheep, with a small black neck ruff is a resident of the mountain foothills and rolling steppe of northwest and southwest of Iran. In the recent past, its range extended eastward from northwestern Iran to central Alborz and Zagros. The purest Armenian sheep are found in Marakan, Kiamaky, Arasbaran, Uromiyeh lake (Kabodan Island), Angoran and Bijar. Armenian sheep also occur in Oshtorankoh and Haftad Goleh. The purported hybrid population, Alborz red sheep (Ovis gmelinii gmelinii x Ovis vignei urknl) (Valdez et al. 1978) occurs in north-central Iran in the Alborz mountains near Tehran, east to the Parvar Wildlife Reserve and south into the Kavir Desert (Siah Kuh range). The exact western, eastern and southern limits of its distribution are undetermined. In Iraq, populations occurred in the extreme northern region in the Zagros mountains and along the northeastern border with Iran. Nothing known of current distributions. In the former Soviet Union, the sheep inhabits the Transcaucasus, specifically the Zangezur (Zangezrskiy) range in Armenia and Nakhichevan, and possibly just into the extreme southwestern tip of Azerbaijan. However, most occur on the Nakhichevan side of these mountains from 40°N, 45°E to 38°30’N, 46°30’E.

Ovis orientalis vignei
In India, this urial occurs only in Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir), where it is distributed discontinuously in a narrow band along the valley-bottom, to the foothill boundary of the Indus and Shyok-Nubra rivers, and some of their major tributaries. Most urial are found along the Indus valley westward from the village of Likchey to that of Khalsi, with additional herds around the junction of the Nubra and Shyok valleys (Fox et al., 1991a; Mallon, 1983, 1991). In Pakistan, Schaller (1977) gave the major river valleys of the KunarlChitral river, Indus, Gilgit river and Shyok as the main range of Ladakh urial, and Roberts (1985) presented a similar picture. However, these distribution maps seem no longer valid, indicating instead the recent historical and not the current distribution. Ladakh urial is still widely distributed, but only in very small isolated populations. In Chitral District, it still inhabits the west (right) bank of the Kunar river, from Chitral southwards to Drosh (Anonymous, 1986). Localities on the east bank of the Kunar river, as well as from north of Chitral (Anonymous 1986; Zool. Surv. Dept., 1987) are not confirmed. Also, Malik (1987) presents a distribution map showing that it occurs on the east bank of the Kunar river, but does not mention this occurrence in the text. In Gilgit District, Hess (in press) was able to locate only one place where urial survived in 1985-86; reliable informants told him about a population of 27 animals on the right side of the lower Miatsil river (Hispar valley). Also Rasool (unpubl. data) has information about 10 to 15 urial from the main Hunza valley, which may represent animals of the same population described by Hess. There is no evidence of its presence within the whole area along the Gilgit and Indus rivers upstream from Gilgit to downstream from Chilas. Most occurrences of the taxon in northern Pakistan are from Baltistan District. Besides Schaller’s (1977) map, additional records exist for the Kharpacho hills close to Skardu, and from a reliable report for the Tormik valley and the area near Rondu (Hess, in press).

Ovis orientalis punjabiensis
The distribution area of this subspecies in Pakistan is enclosed by the Indus and the Jhelum rivers and the forest belt of the Himalayan foothills. The taxonomic status of urial living along the west bank of the Indus, adjacent to the Punjab urial’s range, is uncertain (Schaller and Mirza, 1974). Punjab urial is found in small scattered populations in the Kala Chitta and in the Salt range up to 1,500 m asl, and in the Districts of Attack, Chakwal, Jhelum, Mianwali, and Khushab. At present the 2, and perhaps only, major populations of Punjab urial inhabit the Kala Chitta hills (District Attack) and the Kala Bagh Sanctuary of the Jabbah Valley (District Mianwali). Pakistan: Salt and Kala Chitta Ranges, Punjab Province. Limited to two areas in Punjab: Kala Chitta Range:Total estimated area of Kala Chitta Range = 322 km², Current area of occupancy in Kala Chitta Range = 100 km², two subpopulations and Salt Range : Total estimated area of Salt Range = 4,334 km², Current area of occupancy in Salt Range = 1,265 km², 14 subpopulations
Countries:
Native:
Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Kazakhstan; Oman; Pakistan; Tajikistan; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uzbekistan
Vagrant:
Afghanistan
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population of this species has not been estimated. The population trend across its range is likely to be a significant decrease, probably as much as 30% over three generations.

Ovis orientalis arkal
The total number estimated in ex-Soviet republics at the beginning of the 1990s was ca. 6,000 animals. Numbers had declined sharply before the mid-1960s when 3,000 were estimated for Kazakhstan, and continued to decline to 2,000 by the 1970s and 1,500 at the beginning of the 1980s (Lankin 1982; Savinov and Bekenov, 1977). In the early 1980s 800 were estimated in Turkmenistan, of which 500 were found along the shores of Kara-Bogaz Gol and 300 in the southern ravines (Zarkhidze and Gorbunov, 1983). Following protection resulting from its listing in the USSR Red Data Book, numbers of this subspecies began to increase in the latter half of the 1980s with some populations reestablishing themselves naturally. However, since the early 1990s the populations appear to have once more declined. About 300 were thought to inhabit Uzbekistan in 1983 but have since declined (0. Tsaruk, in litt., 1994) with ca. 40 near the border with Turkmenistan (B. Dyakin pers. comm. to E. Mukhina, 1995). There are no recent estimates in Iran.

Ovis orientalis bocharensis
Numbers have fluctuated slightly since the 1970s (Frolov and Golub, 1983; Luzhevsky, 1977), and by the late 1980s the total number estimated was only 1,000 animals (Prisyazhniuk, 1990). However, Sokov (1989) mentioned > 1,000 for Tajikistan alone, so together with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan there might have been up to some 1,200 animals. However, numbers are believed to be decreasing now, and in some areas populations are very small. For example, in Uzbekistan on the western slopes of the Kugitangtau on the Turkmen-Uzbek border, there may be as few as 100 individuals (B. Dyakin, Department of Hunting Management, Uzbekistan pers. comm. to E. Mukhina), with only five counted in May 1993 in the Surkhan Nature Reserve (Chernagaev et al., 1995).

Ovis orientalis cycloceros
The estimate for the total population in Turkmenistan in the late 1980s and early 1990s was between 10,500 and 11,000 urial. Numbers had increased slightly from the estimates of 7,000 to 9,000 made in the 1970s (Babaev et al., 1978), when there were 2,000 in the Kopet-Dagh Reserve, with about 1,500 in the Badkhyz Reserve (Gorelov, 1978). Although about half the total numbers probably still occur within protected areas, outside them these urial exist mainly in relatively low densities. Recent evidence reports a significant decline in numbers in the eastern Kopet Dagh and in Badkhyz, with only 150 to 200 in Big Balkhan and 300 to 350 in the western Kopet Dagh (V. Lukarevsky, in litt., 1994). No total population census based on surveys is available for Pakistan. In the past, Roberts (1985) estimated that perhaps 2,500 to 3,000 Afghan urial lived in Baluchistan, with 1,000 (0.2/km²) inhabiting the Torghar hills of Toba Kakar range (District Zhob) according to Mitchell (1988). About 150 animals inhabit the Takatu hills near Quetta (A. Ahmad, unpubl. Data), and the situation in the Dureji hills (District Zhob) may be a little better (Virk, 1991). Malik (1987) estimated a total of 310 to 340 Afghan urial for the whole of NWFP, whereas the NWFP Forest Department (NWFP 1992) reported a more recent total of only 80 urial (68 from Kohat, two from Mardan and 10 from Abbottabad), suggesting a severe decline over five years. For Sind Province, a census carried out by Mirza and Asghar (1980) estimated a population of 430 urial for Kirthar NP. Based on a census in the Mari-Lusar-Manghtar range and in the Karchat mountains in 1987, K. Bollmann (unpubl. data) estimated between 800 and 1,000 urial (0.26-0.32/km²) for the whole of Kirthar NP. About 150 to 200 animals live in the Mari-Lusar-Manghtar range, and 100 to 150 in the Karchat mountains; i.e. 1.7 to 2.5 urial/km² (Edge and Olson-Edge, 1987). The overall density within the subspecies’ distribution is probably much lower than this. There is no estimate in Afghanistan.

Ovis orientalis gmelinii
No current total population estimate is available in Iran. The population on Kabodan Island, on Uromiyeh Lake, is probably the largest and the current estimate for this is around 2,250 sheep. An estimate of numbers for the hybrid is not available. No estimate in Iraq. Current numbers are unknown for Turkmenistan, but probably 11,000 individuals. It was numerous until the 1950s when herds of up to 200 could be seen. It has since declined, and by the end of the 1960s there were 1750 in Azerbaijan and Armenia. For a brief period,numbers did increase until the late 1970s when the population in Nakhichevan ASSR alone numbered 1,000 to 1,200 animals (Alekperov and Kuliev, 1981).

Ovis orientalis vignei
The total population in India is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,500 animals (Fox et al., 1991a; Mallon, 1983, 1991). The Ladakh urial has declined dramatically in the last 60 years, especially during the military conflicts between 1947 and 1962 (Fox et al., 1991a; Mallon, 1983). According to some reports from around 1900, the Ladakh urial used to be a common animal of northern Pakistan. Schaller (1976) estimated that
Ovis orientalis punjabiensis
Kala Chitta Range (100 urials, 2 subpopulations) and Salt Range (800 urials, 14 subpopulations) (Caprinae SG 2004). Schaller (1977) estimated a total world population of ~2,000 Punjab urial and a complete census made in 1976-77 by Mirza et al. (1979) estimated 2,157. Estimates by Chaudhry (unpubl. data) in 1992, give a minimum total population of 1,550 throughout its whole range. For Punjab, Chaudhry et al. (1988) reported a significant decline in urial numbers over only one year; from 733 in 1986 to 528 in 1987. A total of only 12 were reported for Chinji NP (Chaudhry and Sarwar, 1988).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species inhabits moderately to very arid habitats, especially grasslands, but they also occur in agricultural fields and woodland areas (Valdez, 1982). This species is herbivorous, feeding on grasses and shrubs, and also grains. The Punjab urial (Ovis orientalis punjabiensis) is the principal mammalian game species of the scrub forest in Salt and Kala Chitta Ranges. In the Salt Range it is typically associated with lower rounded stony hills sparsely covered with wild olive (Olea ferruginea) and phulai (Acacia modesta). The distribution of the sub-species in Pakistan is between the Indus and Jhelum rivers at elevations of 250-1,500 m. The Punjab urial is a gregarious, sexually dimorphic, non-territorial, promiscuous ungulate. The reproductive cycle begins with the rut in mid October and November with a peak of activity in the first half of November. Females give birth to one or two lambs in early April. Main predators are leopard and jackal.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Overall, this species is threatened mainly by poaching and competition with livestock. Specific threats to particular subspecies are:

Ovis orientalis arkal
Poaching remains a major threat and is the cause of the latest decline in the ex-Soviet republics. It is carried out by locals, especially around the limited waterholes used by the urial, using both firearms and snares (Fedosenko, 1986; Gorbunov, 1986). In Iran the threats include habitat destruction, poaching and competition from livestock.

Ovis orientalis bocharensis
The decrease in numbers is attributed to poaching and competition with domestic livestock, coupled with droughts and severe winters. The Babatagh mountains have been a centre in the civil war in Tajikistan and poaching is totally uncontrolled. The winters of 1968-69 and 1971-72 were especially harsh in Tajikistan, and many urial carcasses were found in spring 1969 in the Kugitangtau.

Ovis orientalis cycloceros
In Turkmenistan, poaching is the main threat, but there is also competition from domestic livestock for forage and water. In Afghanistan, this urial avoids rugged mountainous terrain where it might gain some protection, and instead competes directly with livestock that are seasonally brought into their habitat. Urial populations near major urban centres have declined significantly due to indiscriminate hunting pressure. In Pakistan, overhunting, livestock overgrazing, and habitat degradation caused by fuelwood gathering and by agriculture, are the main threats to this urial. Afghan urial may be more susceptible to such threats than are wild goats inhabiting the same areas because of species-specific differences in habitat preferences (Edge and Olson-Edge, 1987). Throughout its range in Baluchistan, Afghan urial faces severe hunting pressure and competition from domestic sheep and goat, and lives in extremely scattered and small populations (Virk, 1991).

Ovis orientalis gmelinii
Habitat loss and competition from domestic livestock, together with poaching.

Ovis orientalis vignei
Hunting has been relatively strictly controlled recently in India (especially in the Indus valley), but the urial’s habitat is very accessible and susceptible to overuse by livestock herding and other human activities. Urial occupy the low relatively accessible areas along the major valley corridors, all of which have, or soon will have, roads. The resulting effects of increased hunting and eventual human settlement associated with irrigation projects and increased livestock numbers, will require effective conservation and management actions if Ladakh urial is to survive (Foxet al., 1994). Its future status thus remains questionable due to increasing development activities in the major valleys of Ladakh. In Pakistan, most urial habitat is close to human settlements and also not very steep, therefore easily accessible to hunters and for grazing by livestock.

Ovis orientalis punjabiensis
The habitat of Punjab urial is declining in area because of agriculture, urbanization, roads and other human developments. It is declining in quality because of overgrazing by domestic livestock. Lambs are poached at birth to keep as pets. They are a status symbol and although capture is illegal, the Pakistani government is now selling licenses to keep urial as pets. Some are hybridized with mouflon and domestic sheep. Adult rams are poached for their trophy value. Apart from the protected population in the Jabbah valley (700 urial), the Punjab urial suffers heavy hunting pressure and has declined drastically in only a short period in some areas of Pakistan (Chaudhry et al., 1988). It persists only in small populations and at low densities (Roberts, 1985). In addition, competition and transmission of diseases from domestic animals are major threats. Lambs are kept as pets, ram horns are a prized trophy, the meat is eaten.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Ovis orientalis is listed on CITES Appendix I (as Ovis orientalis ophion and Ovis vignei vignei, Appendix II as Ovis vignei).

In Afghanistan, O. orientalis was placed on the country’s first Protected Species List in 2009, prohibiting all hunting and trading of this species within the country.

In Iran, Caprinae are the only game mammals that can be hunted under licences issued by the Department of the Environment. Other large mammals such as cheetah (Acinonyx jubutus), Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamicus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), red deer (Cervus elaphus), gazelles (Gazella bennetti) and wild ass (Equus hemionus), are protected species and hunting them is prohibited except under special licence. The hunting season for Caprinae lasts four months beginning each year in September, but each licence is valid only for five days from its date of issue. Hunters with non-automatic and semi-automatic weapons (all weapons with a calibre of <6 mm and all shot guns are prohibited) can obtain a licence and are permitted to shoot a wild sheep or a wild goat. Each hunter can obtain up to four licences per hunting season, and may shoot three males and one female. Unfortunately the exact numbers of Caprinae shot each year by hunters are not available. According to recent data, between 2,200 and 3,200 licences were issued each hunting season, and a rough estimate of the number Caprinae legally shot each year would be between 2,000 to 3,000 animals. However, more than twice this number are estimated to be killed by poachers annually. Hunting is permitted in protected areas but requires a special licence. Because Caprinae populations are not harvestable in most areas, licences are almost never issued for protected areas except for Kabudan island, located within Lake Uromiyeh. Here, the Department of the Environment staff harvest between 200 and 500 Armenian mouflon annually.

Ovis orientalis isphahanica
This subspecies is found in Garnishlo and Kolahgazy Wildlife Refuges, and in Tangsayad Protected Area.

Ovis orientalis laristanica
Laristan sheep are known to occur in Khabr-va-Rochon Wildlife Refuge and in Geno and Hormod Protected Areas. Some authors believe that Laristan sheep also inhabit Bamou National Park (estimated number 1,150) (Valdez and DeForge, 1985).

Ovis orientalis arkal
Listed in Appendix I of CITES, and as Category II in the USSR Red Data Book (Borodin, 1984). This urial is found in the following Nature Reserves (Sokolov and Syroechkovsky, 1990b): Kaplankyr (Turkmenistan); Ustyurt (about 600 head) (Kazakhstan). The Uzbekistan State Committee for Nature Protection (Republican State Board For Conservation and Utilisation of Flora, Fauna, and Protected Lands) plans to allow two of this urial to be taken by foreign hunters in 1995 (Anon., 1995b). Conservation measures proposed: Reduce significantly poaching. If this can be controlled, the existing measures will be sufficient as long as they are maintained. This urial also occurs in two National Parks, three Wildlife Refuges, and three Protected Areas in Iran. Hunting in all these areas is prohibited and domestic animals are under control. Hunting under licence is allowed from September to February outside these areas.

Ovis orientalis bocharensis
Listed in Appendix I of CITES, and as Category I in the USSR Red Data Book (Borodin 1984). This urial is found in the following Nature Reserves: Dashti Turn (Tajikistan), Kugitang (Turkmenistan) and Surkhan (Uzbekistan). In 1991, 14 were reported in Surkhan NR but only five in 1993 (Kh. Mengliev pers. comm. to E. Mukhina, 1995). The Uzbekistan State Committee for Nature Protection plans to allow two of this urial to be taken by foreign hunters in 1995 (Anon., 1995b), and Tajikistan planned to allow hunts for this urial. Conservation measures proposed: 1) Halt all hunting. 2) Carry out surveys and censuses. 3) Reconsider the potential for hunting programs only if they are sustainable and will clearly improve conservation status of markhor. If not, maintain a hunting ban and provide further protection. 4) Establish reserves at Babatagh (when fighting ceases) and at Baisuntau in Uzbekistan. 5) Examine the possibility of re-establishing a population in the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve. Reduce significantly 6) poaching and 7) competition with livestock.

Ovis orientalis cycloceros
Listed in Appendix I of CITES, and placed in Category II of the USSR Red Data Book (Borodin 1984). Approximately half the total population lives in protected areas in Turkmenistan. Kopet Dagh Nature Reserve was established primarily for preservation of this subspecies, and they are also found in Siunt-Khasardag and Badkhyz Nature Reserves. The Turkmenistan Government planned hunts for two of this urial in 1995. Conservation measures proposed: 1) Increase the enforcement of existing protective measures both in and outside protected areas. 2) Decrease poaching. 3) Ensure any hunting programs are sustainable and based on sound biological data. Occurs in the Arjar Valley Wildlife Reserve in Afghanistan (Shank et al., 1977), and seasonally (summer) in Kohe Burocinal and Kohe Argosa nearby the Band-e Amir National Park (Shank and Larsson, 1977). In the 1970s plans were considered to locate a viable urial population to develop a limited hunting reserve involving local participation, as had been achieved for Marco Polo sheep. Conservation measures proposed: 1) Carry out extensive surveys of Afghan urial populations and distributions in the Hindu Kush. 2) Re-consider the options proposed by Petocz (1978).

Pakistani protected areas reported to contain mostly very small numbers of Afghan urial include: NWFP - Dera Ismail Khan District: Sheikh Buddin NP (Malik, 1987, Zool. Survey Dept., 1987); Kohat District: Borraka WS (Malik, 1987, Zool. Survey Dept., 1987) Rakh Topi GR (Malik, 1987); Peshawar District: Nizampur GR (Malik, 1987); District Abbottabad: Surrana GR. BaZz&istarz - Las Bela District: Hingol NP, Dureji WS, Khurkhera WS (Baluchistan Forest Dept., 1990), Dureji WS (Zool. Survey Dept., no date); Khuzdar District: Dhrun NP, Chorani WS (Zool. Survey Dept., no date); Kharan District: Ras Koh GR, Raghai Rakshan WS (Baluchistan Forest Dept., 1990); Kalat District: Hazarganji-Chiltan NP, and possibly Sashan WS (Baluchistan Forest Dept., 1990); Quetta District: Hazarganji-Chiltan NP (Baluchistan Forest Dept., 1990; though presence in this NP not confirmed by Virk, 1991); Sibi District: Ziarat Juniper WS (Baluchistan Forest. Dept., 1990); Pishin District: Masalakh WS (Baluchistan Forest Dept., 1990). Sind - Dadu District: Kirthar NP (Sind Wildlife Management Board, no date); Karachi District: Kirthar NP (Sind Wildlife Management Board, no date). As a result of the protection given by Kirthar NP, the urial population within its boundaries has increased recently. However, except for Kirthar NP, Hingol NP, Dhrun NP and Dureji WS, the protection measures for the other sanctuaries and reserves may not be effective at the present time. WWF-Pakistan has recently initiated a participatory management program in the Shirani tribal area, which includes protection for Afghan urial. Conservation measures proposed: 1) Determine the current distribution and numbers of Afghan urial, as well as its status in all protected areas, as soon as possible. 2) Immediately, focus intensive protection measures on a few of the already existing, but well controllable sanctuaries, to protect and rebuild viable populations. Apart from the national parks, Takatu hills (District Quetta) and Gharsa Nallah may be good focal areas. The proximity of Takatu hills to Quetta should offer the opportunity for effective protection. 3) To maximise the efficient use of resources, conservation actions for urial, wild goat, and straighthorned markhor, could be combined where their distributions overlap. 4) Some areas might ultimately be used for controlled trophy hunting programs once populations have been restored, providing economic incentives to tribal people as part of the management plan (Virk, 1991).

Ovis orientalis gmelinii
In Iran, the Armenian mouflon is found in Uromiyeh Lake National Park, three Wildlife Reserves, and 10 Protected Areas. The contentious hybrid populations occur in Kavir, Khogir and Sorkheh Hesar National Parks; in Dodangeh Wildlife Reserve; and in Alborz-e-Markazy, Lar River, Varjim and Jajrud Protected Areas. Hunting is allowed under permit outside the protected areas between September and February each year, while within them, domestic livestock grazing is strictly controlled. The population on Kabudan Island, which lies within Uromiyeh Lake National Park, was introduced 90 years ago. In recent years the Kabudan Island population built up to over 3,000 sheep and vegetation was badly damaged. Two leopards (Pan therapardus) were released in an attempt to control the sheep population, and after a few years numbers decreased and stabilised at around 1,000 sheep. The leopards reportedly produced at least one young, but no more sightings or signs were recorded after 1984. The population of wild sheep has since increased and control of the sheep population has been initiated, with Department of Environment staff removing 200 to 500 animals per year. Listed in Category I of the USSR Red Data Book (Borodin, 1984). In Armenia, it has been forbidden to hunt them since 1936. Armenian mouflon is found only in two protected areas, the Khosrov Nature Reserve in Armenia created for this mouflon’s protection but which fails to fulfil this task because of territorial changes, and the Ordubad Sanctuary (Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan). A captive breeding program has been initiated at the Zoological Institute of Armenia. Conservation measures proposed: 1) Determine current numbers, status and distribution as soon as possible. 2) Expand Khosrov Nature Reserve to include areas which had been used previously by sheep, and 3) reorganize the Orbubad Sanctuary into a state reserve. 4) Control livestock and eliminate, or significantly reduce poaching.

Ovis orientalis vignei
The Ladakh urial is listed in Appendix I of CITES, as a threatened species by the Government of India, and is a fully protected (Schedule I) species in Jammu and Kashmir’s Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1978 (Ganhar, 1979). Some illegal hunting probably still takes place, although such activity is now apparently well controlled in the upper Indus valley area near Leh. Hemis National Park (Jammu and Kashmir) contains the only urial population currently found in a protected area in India. Conservation measures proposed: 1) Increase the number of protected areas and establish those proposed ones in which Ladakh urial are known to inhabit in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Gya-Miru (12 1 urial counted in 1984), Rizong (145 counted in 1984) and Karakorum Wildlife Sanctuaries (Fox et al. 1991a). Gya-Miru includes the easternmost known distribution of the species. 2) Enlarge Hemis National Park to include areas of critical habitat along the Indus river west of its confluence with the Zanskar river. This step is very important for urial conservation. 3) Increase measures to combat poaching by road labourers and construction officials along the new road running between two important subpopulations in the Hemis National Park, (Fox 1987, Fox et al. 1991a, Mallon and Bacha 1989). Develop a management strategy to 4) strictly control hunting and 5) minimise competition from livestock grazing. If the above proposed sanctuaries are notified and adequately protected, and if livestock grazing is well managed, they should begin to provide the necessary protection for more than half of the remaining Ladakh urial and their range in India. However, because of the linear distribution of urial along major valleys, and its close proximity to human activity, the inclusion of critical urial habitat within the central core areas of large conservation units is not practical. Alternatively, “mini-core areas” may be required to target the protection of small areas of critical urial habitat. Ladakh urial occur in very few protected areas in Pakistan: NWFP - Chitral District: Chitral Gol NP (Anonymous, 1986); Northern Areas - Gilgit District: Danyore GR (Rasool, no date); Baltistan District: Satpara WS (Rasool, no date). These areas probably protect few urials; for example only two individuals were reported in Chitral Gol NP in 1986. Conservation measures proposed: 1) Ban all hunting of this urial. 2) Rigorously protect all areas with populations ~20 animals which can be controlled. 3) Initiate an intensive conservation program in the Kharpacho hills near Skardu, inhabited in 1983 by 14 animals and in 1985 by 18 animals. Its close proximity to Skardu makes it easy to control and offers opportunity to demonstrate wildlife protection to the public (Hess in press).

Ovis orientalis punjabiensis
Listed in Appendix I of CITES under Ovis vignei, and like all mammals, it is legally protected in the Punjab. Protected areas reported to contain this urial include: Punjab - Chakwal (previously Attack) District: Chinji NP (Chaudhry and Sarwar, 1988), Kala Chitta CR, Khari Murat GR (Zool. Survey Dept., no date); Chakwal District: Chinji NP, Chhumbi Surla WS; Jhelum District: Jalalpur Sharif WS, Rakh Kundal WS, Diljabba Domeli GR (Zool. Survey Dept., no date), Chhumbi Surla WS (Chaudhry, unpubl. data); Khushab District: Sodhi WS (Zool. Survey Dept., no date); Mianwali District: Kala Bagh Sanctuary. Kala Bagh Sanctuary is a WWF-Pakistan Sanctuary, privately owned and protected by the Maliks of Kala Bagh (Schaller and Mirza, 1974; Schaller, 1977; Roberts, 1967a, 1977, 1985; Mirza et al., 1979; Zool. Survey Dept., no date). This population, estimated at 500 in 1966, 1970 and 1974 (Mountfort, 1969; Schaller and Mirza, 1974; Schaller, 1977), increased to over 750, before crashing due to an unknown epidemic transmitted by domestic camel. The population has since recovered and numbers 850 animals at present (Malik A.Y. Khan, 1992 pers. comm. to A. A. Chaudhry). Conservation measures proposed: 1) Enforce protection measures in the relatively accessible protected areas; this is urgently required. 2) Kala Bagh Sanctuary could be selected as a focal area. Animals from this population could be used for a re-introduction program. Only one area is protected (Kalabagh game Reserve) and managed by the community The Punjab government has declared 12 protected areas of different categories in the range of distribution of Punjab urial. Law enforcement in these protected areas is poor, and there are no legal restrictions on domestic livestock.

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Citation: Valdez, R. 2008. Ovis orientalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 03 September 2014.
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