Long-tailed Goral, Naemorhedus caudatus
The long-tailed goral (Naemorhedus caudatus), also known as the Chinese gray goral, is a species of wild goat that can be found in northern and eastern Asia. Its range includes China, Russia, and Korea. It prefers a habitat in mountainous regions with little vegetation and rocky ground. This species lives near crevices, which it uses for safety and shelter. Occasionally, these goats can be found in the area of evergreen or deciduous forests.
The long-tailed goral differs in size depending on sex. Males can reach an average weight between sixty-two and ninety-three pounds, while females typically weigh between forty-nine and seventy-seven pounds. The average body length of both sexes reaches between thirty-two and fifty-one inches. Its fur is brownish grey, with a bushy dark brown to black tail. Females are typically lighter in color, and bare smaller horns than males, whose curved horns have rings. Its face resembles that of a serow, with a narrow nose and eyes that sit close together.
The long-tailed goral gathers in small groups between two and twelve individuals, which hold females, young males, and kids. Older males are typically solitary and will travel over large areas in search of females to breed with when the rutting season begins. Groups can hold a range of about one hundred acres. Females are able to breed only once a year, with a thirty to forty hour estrous period. If the female is able to mate, she will have a pregnancy lasting 215 days. After this, one kid is typically born, although twins do occur.
The diet of the long-tailed goral consists of many types of grasses, fruits, nuts and woody materials like twigs. The summer diet consists mainly of grass, while the winter diet consists of more types of food. In the wild, this species can live between ten and fifteen years, while one captive individual lived for seventeen years.
The long-tailed goral is not a commonly seen species. The largest number of wild individuals can be found in Russia, in a population of around six hundred. Other populations typically number around two hundred. There are many captive individuals located in zoos around the world, with San Diego Zoo holding the most successful breeding population. It also appears in the Saint Louis Zoo, among other United States zoos. In Korea, there are only about two hundred individuals of the species in the wild, and it has been named a South Korean natural monument and listed as endangered there.
The long-tailed goral appears in Appendix I of CITES and in the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Vulnerable.” Although it occurs in many protected areas, these reserves were not created specifically for them. In China, this goral is a protected species, but its use in traditional medicine causes its protection to be lacking. Poaching is the main threat to this species. It does have natural predators, including the lynx and snow leopard, but these predators are also endangered, so it is thought that they do not pose a huge threat. Habitat loss is also a threat to the long-tailed goral, with much of its natural habitat being destroyed for agricultural purposes. Due to increased farming, livestock are posing a threat to this goral as well, by causing competition for food sources and habitat. Conservation efforts should include educating local people on the importance of the long-tailed goral, habitat maintenance, and adhering to protection laws by enforcing them.
Image Caption: Central Chinese Goral or Long-tailed Goral (Naemorhedus caudatus), St. Louis Zoo. Credit: Robert Lawton/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)