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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

Barbary Sheep

The Barbary Sheep (Ammotragus lervia), is a species of goat-antelope in the family Caprinae. They are native to the rocky mountains of North Africa. They are found in Mauritania, Morocco, southern Algeria, northwest Chad and Sudan. Although it is rare in its native habitat, it has been introduced to North America, Europe and elsewhere. In North America, they can be found in parts of Texas, New Mexico, and California. They have also been introduced into Mexico and Spain.

Barbary Sheep stand 30 to 40 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 90 to 310 pounds. They are a sandy-brown color, darkening with age, with a slightly lighter underbelly and a darker line on the back. Upperparts and outer legs are uniform reddish-brown or grayish-brown. There is some shaggy hair on the throat, which spreads down to the chest on males. Their horns have a triangular cross section. The horns curve outwards, backwards then inwards, and reach up to 20 inches. The horns are smooth, but wrinkled at the base. Scientists say that the horns can grow to be about six inches long.

Barbary Sheep graze on all available plants, such as grass, bushes, lichen and acacia. They obtain all their moisture from food, but if water is available they drink and wallow in it. Barbary Sheep are crepuscular, active in the early morning and late afternoon, resting in the heat of the day. They are very agile and can jump over 6 feet from a stand-still. Barbary Sheep are usually solitary, and freeze in the presence of danger. Their main predators in North Africa are leopards and caracals.

Photo Credit: Andrzej Barabasz

Barbary Sheep