Mouflon, Ovis aries orientalis

The mouflon (Ovis aries orientalis) is classified as a subspecies group within the Ovis aries group. The other members of this group are known as urials, or the vignei group. It is thought that the mouflon is the ancestor to all domestic sheep. There are currently five recognized subspecies of the mouflon. This species can be found in the Caucasus, northwestern Iran, and northern areas of Iraq. The only native subspecies of the mouflon is the Cyprus mouflon, with the other four subspecies occurring as introduced species, especially for hunting purposes. The natural habitats of the mouflon include sheer, rugged wooded areas located near tree lines.

The mouflon is typically reddish brown in color, with darker stripes found along its body. It also bares pale colored saddle markings on its back. The average height of an adult male mouflon is 2.9 feet, with a weight of 110 pounds, while females are smaller and can weigh an average of 77 pounds. The horns of males are typically curved, reaching an average length of 2.7 feet. Some females of this species do not have horns at all.

It appears in popular culture as the symbol of Cyprus Airways, as well as on some Cypriot euro coins. It also appears on the historic flag of the Armenian kingdom Syunikm, and on gravestones there. Because of its relation to modern sheep, and its endangered position, the mouflon has become the subject of many studies. The mofloun appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Vulnerable”.

Image Caption: Mouflon in zoo. Credit: Dave Pape/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.0)