- The astonishing Bharal lives in an extremely rugged and remote section of Asia. So remote is its habitat range, that few outsiders ever see this amazing creature.
- This animal has been little-studied. In fact, the first serious scientific observations of this rather remarkable ruminant did not occur until 1973.
- Previously, this fascinating recluse of Nature had been thought to be a variety of sheep. However, recent DNA analysis reveals a much closer relationship to goats.
- Interestingly, this species has long enjoyed a special relationship with the occupants of numerous Buddhist monasteries in its endemic range, who often protected the creatures.
- Sadly, however, concerns over Bharal-related crop damage have begun to arise in portions of its native range, putting pressure on those who strive to protect it.
Bharal Physical Description
The beautiful Bharal ranks as a medium-sized form of caprid, which is a type of ruminant. This animal does display sexual dimorphism, but only a slight degree. The males grow slightly larger and heavier than the females.
Overall, it attains an average head and body length of roughly 65 in (165 cm). The short, rather stubby tail adds, at most, an additional 7.9 in (20 cm) to its length.
The largest individual observed to date measured 36 in (91 cm) tall at the shoulder. However, most individuals remain significantly smaller than this.
The Bharal coat grows short and rather dense. It also typically displays a slate gray color, commonly with a bluish sheen. The belly and part of the legs present a white color, while the chest and front of the legs usually show black.
Both genders produce the surprising horns. In males, these grow to lengths of as much as 31 in (80 cm), while those of the female rarely exceed 8 in (20.3 cm).
Species: P. nayaur
Bharal Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Within that range, however, it only inhabits a very specific type of habitat. It only lives on high mountain slopes, and typically those that contain numerous rocky cliffs and ledges.
These, the Bharal uses both for camouflage and defense. Its natural coloring allows it to blend in quite well with the color of the native stone, providing protection from predators.
In addition, the Bharal rarely strays more than 650 ft (200 m) from the ledges and cliffs. Its surefooted nature commonly allows it to escape attacking predators by leaping onto tiny ledges.
Its most common predators include the gorgeous Snow Leopard. However, it also falls prey to human hunters.
Despite this practice, however, its numbers appear stable for the moment. For this reason, the IUCN currently classifies it as a Species of Least Concern.
Its main threat actually consists of competition from livestock for available food sources.