Red Goral, Naemorhedus baileyi
The red goral (Naemorhedus baileyi) is an even-toed ungulate that can be found in China, Myanmar, and India. This range is focused on the borders of these areas where they meet. Its preferred habitat includes tropical or subtropical arid forests and tropical arid low grasslands. The red goral is named after the man who explored the “frontier region” before World War 1, Lieutenant-Colonel F. M. Bailey. Baily noted the reddish color of the goral’s coat, but did not gather any specimens. Earl of Cranbrook and Captain F. Kingdon Ward captured the first specimen in upper Burma in 1931, but this species was not formally described or classified until 1961.
The red goral is the smallest of all goral species, because its range is so isolated. It can reach an average weight between 44 and 66 pounds, with an average body length of 3.2 feet. Captive individuals have shown that females are typically larger than males. This goral is the only species within its genus to have a reddish coat and is easily distinguishable from other gorals. Males and females grow arced horns that reach an average length of 6.2 inches.
The red goral is primarily active during the day, with peak activity occurring at dusk and dawn. When resting at night, this species will choose highly inaccessible and sheltered ledges to increase protection from potential predators. It can jump as far as 5.9 feet over rocky terrain, with one captive female jumping this high from a standing position. Although males are typically silent, they will emit a “zer-zer” vocalization during breeding season, and female will respond with a whistle. Males will hold a territory of up to 98 acres during breeding season.
The mating season of the red goral occurs between the months of September and November. The courting process consists of males using the flehmen response to find females in estrous. If the female is not capable of breeding or is non-responsive, she will either run away from the male or try to butt him with her head. This species is typically solitary, but females can often be seen with young. Groups of one female, one male, and one young produced by the individuals have been reported.
The entire population of the red goral is estimated at less than 10,000 individuals, with small populations occurring throughout its range. The main threats to this species are hunting and habitat loss due to deforestation. This species does occur in protected areas including the Hkakabo-Razi National Park located in Myanmar and Gangxiang, Muotuo, Xiaca, and Medoq located in Tibet, although estimated numbers of Tibetan populations conducted in 1988 showed that only as many as 1,370 individuals could be found in that area. The Shanghai Zoo does hold a small captive breeding group. The red goral appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Vulnerable.”
Image Caption: Taxidermy exhibit in the Kunming Natural History Museum of Zoology (昆明动物博物馆), Kunming, Yunnan, China. Credit: Daderot/Wikipedia