Afghan or Baluchistan urial, Blanford urial, Punjab urial, Ladakh
urial or Shapu
vignei. cycloceros, Ovis vignei blanfordi, Ovis.
vignei. punjabiensis, Ovis. vignei. vignei
(Punjab), Shapu (Northern Areas),
Gad (Baluchistan and Sind) |
Widespread. All four provinces and
Northern Areas (Baluchistan, NWFP, Sind, Punjab,
Afghan or Baluchistan Urial
vignei. cycloceros (= blanfordi)),
Kirthar National Park, Sind
Photo Credit: Sind Wildlife Department
and sub species:
Caprini is represented in Pakistan by three subspecies of Urial:
Ovis. vignei. vignei
or Baluchistan urial (Ovis.
vignei. cycloceros (= blanfordi))
taxonomic status of urial in Baluchistan and in southwestern Sind is
disputed, and other authors have divided them differently. Roberts
(1967a, 1977, 1985) refers them to Baluchistan urial (O.v. blanfordi),
Schaller (1977) as Afghan urial
vignei. cycloceros), and Valdez (1988) differentiates between the
Afghan urial (Ovis.
vignei. cycloceros) disributed in Baluchistan north of Quetta, and
the Baluchistan urial (O. o. blanfordi) distributed in
Baluchistan south of Quetta and in Sind west of Indus.
Shoulder Height: 76.15-91.5cm / 30-36in.
Horn Lenght: 63.5-105.5cm / 25-41.5in.
to the Marco Polo Sheep in general body proportions and coloring but
averaging considerably smaller in size with shorter, less massive horns.
The face is generally greyish, the long slender legs and belly are
creamy-white and the body fur is a reddish-grey color. There is no
extensive white area in the caudal region. The tail is always the same
color as teh dorsal hair and lacks any longer hair or terminal tuft. The
sub-orbital glands are deep and conspicuous often exuding a viscous
substance which mats the hair. The iris is pale yellowish-grey with the
retina contracting to a horizontal slot.
rams develop a conspicuous chest ruff of long straight coarse hairs
which starts at the angle of the jaws and terminates abruptly between the
forelegs. This ruff is predominantly white in the
throat region and
black as it extends down to the sternum. In summer moult this ruff is
much shorter but still conspicuous. Females have slender upward curving
horns about 12.7cm (5in) long. The horns in mature of mature rams are
comparatively slender and angular when contrasted with other wild sheep
species but they describe a very symmetrical arc when viewed from the
side and curve out widely from the body, so that it is a striking
looking animal especially if encountered in the first rays of the
morning sun, when its coat glows an almost pinkish-red color and the
black chest-ruff stands out in sharp contrast. Older rams also develop
traces of a greyish-white saddle mark in the winter coat.
body fur tends to be more greyish in winter and less red. The chest
ruff is comparatively short with black hairs predominating. The horns
turn markedly inwards at their tips and often the wrinkles or
corrugations are rather shallow and indistinct.
Ladakh urial or Shapu (Ovis. vignei. vignei), Ladakh,
Photo Credit: Yash Veer Bhatnagar
tends to have a longer, more luxuriantly developed neck ruff. The body
fur is reddish and the saddle mark in males is generally very indistinct
or lacking. The rams have horns which often develop more than a complete
arc when viewed from the side with the tips bending slightly outwards.
Afghan or Baluchistan Urial (Ovis.
vignei. cycloceros (= blanfordi)),
Kirthar National Park, Sind
Photo Credit: Sind Wildlife Department
punjabiensis tend to be smaller and stokier in build compared with
the Afghan sub-species and mature rams develop a conspicuous saddle mark
in the form of a vertical band of mixed black and white hairs. The
Punjab urial often has horns which are more massive at their base than
the Afghan population but these never curve round in more than a
Punjab Urial (Ovis.
Photo Credit: Ghulam Ali Awan
the Marco Polo sheep, urial are gregarious and the biggest herds consist
of associations of female with their followers and immature males.
Feeding activity is confined to the early morning and evening in the
summer months, often commencing well before dawn. During the day they
rest, usually under an overhanging bush or rock where they are well
concealed. Their sight, hearing ans sense of smell are all acutely
developed. They are excessively wary, depending upon early detection of
approaching danger and flight for their survival.
Period: 150-180 days. Young per Birth: Single or occasional twin lambs
being born in mid-April to early May in Punjab and often as early as
late March in Kirthar Range in Sind. Rut: Rams show no sign of sexual
interest or rut until their third autumn when they are two and a half
years of age. Sexual Maturity: At 4-5 years. Life Span: 10-11 years.
preferred food is grasses. They will in time of fodder scarcity, browse
the leaves of Acacia modesta and sometimes pink mucilaginous fruits.
Baluchistan and Waziristan, the Urial inhabits the gentler slopes of the
higher mountain ranges and will occur up to 2,750m(9,000ft). In the Salt
range and the Southern North West Frontier Province they are typically
associated with lower elevation rounded stony stony hills dotted with
wild olive. In the extreme northern and inner Himalayan ranges, the
Shapu is associated with barren treeless regions in the lower foothills.
They avoid steep precipitous regions in all cases and are usually found
in regions with deep erosion gullies which afford them some cover,
interspersed with relatively smooth boulder-strewn slopes.
Pakistan, the Afghan urial is found in Baluchistan, North West Frontier
(NWFP), and Sindh Provinces. No total population census based on surveys
is available. Perhaps 2,500 - 3,000 animals lived in Baluchistan (HESS
et al. 1997, after ROBERTS 1985). According to ROBERTS (1997), the
population in Baluchistan Province is comprised of small, isolated
populations on a number of mountain ranges. The Torghar Hills area in
the Toba Kakar Range north of Quetta, Baluchistan appears to be a
stronghold. Afghan urial were surveyed in the 950 km2 Torghar
Conservation Project (TCP) area in 1994 and 1997. In 1994, JOHNSON
(1997b) counted 189 urial in five survey blocks within the TCP area. In
1997, FRISINA et al. (1998) counted 47 urial in three of the same blocks
counted in 1994. Extrapolating from these survey areas, JOHNSON (1997b)
estimated a total population of 1,173 urial in the 950 km2 TCP area,
while FRISINA et al. (1998) estimated a total population of 1,543 urial
for the same area three years later. However, these results are not
expected to be typical of other mountain ranges in Baluchistan because
poaching of urial has been effectively controlled in the TCP area
whereas it has not been effectively controlled in other areas. Elsewhere
in Baluchistan Province, urial still exist in the Takhatu Hills, in the
Gishk hills of northeastern Kalat, in the Zambaza Range south of Fort
Sandeman, in the Daman Ghar range north of Muslim Bagh, and around
Turbat and Ormara in the Mekran coast hills (ROBERTS 1997).
to MITCHELL (1988) 1,000 individuals (0,2/km˛ ) inhabited the Torghar
hills of Toba Kakar range (District Zhob). About 150 animals inhabit the
Takatu hills near Quetta (AHMAD, unpubl. data), and the situation in the
Dureji hills (District Zhob) may be a little better (VIRK 1991). MALIK
(1987) estimated a total of 310 - 340 Afghan urial for the whole of the
North West Frontier Province (NWFP), whereas the NWFP Forest Department
(1992) reported a more recent total of only 80 urial, suggesting a
severe decline over 5 years. For Sind Province, a census carried out by
MIRZA & ASGHAR (1980) estimated a population of 430 urial for
Kirthar NP. Based on a census in the Mari-Lusar-Manghtar range and in
the Karchat mountains in 1987, BOLLMANN (1998) estimated between 800 and
1,000 urial (0,26 - 0,32/km˛ ) for the whole of Kirthar NP. According
to EDGE & OLSON-EDGE (1987) about 150 to 200 animals live in the
Mari-Lusar-Manghtar range, and 100 to 150 in the Karchat mountains (1,7
- 2,5/km˛ ). A helicopter survey conducted in November 2000 by the
staff of the Sindh Wildlife Department, Zoological Survey Department and
the University of Melbourne yielded estimates of the total populations
of the Afghan Urial in Kirthar National Park at 10,425 ± 675. This
population concentrated on rocky sites with characteristic vegetation
mainly near Khar and at Dumbar, with small numbers elsewhere. The
overall density of Afghan urial in Pakistan is probably much lower than
this. (HESS et al. 1997, after AHMAD unpubl. data, EDGE & OLSON-EDGE
1987, MALIK 1987, MIRZA & ASGHAR 1980, Mitchell 1988, NWFP 1992,
ROBERTS 1985 and VIRK 1991, Sindh Wildlife Department( Kirthat National
Park, Baseline Environmental Study 2000), (BOLLMANN 1998).
to SARDAR ZULFIQAR ALI BHOOTANI (TAREN 1999, in litt. after pers. comm.
to S. Z. A. BHOOTANI), tribal chief and manager of conservation programs
at Dureji, the approximate population in Dureji is more than 1,300
complete census made in 1976-1977 by MIRZA et al. (1979) estimated the
total world population of Punjab urial (O. v. punjabiensis) as
2,157 animals. According to SCHALLER (1977) the population was <
2,000. Estimates by CHAUDHRY (unpubl. data, in 1992) give a minimum
total population of 1,550 throughout its whole range. For Punjab,
CHAUDHRY et al. (1988) reported a significant decline in urial numbers
over only 1 year from 733 in 1986 to 528 in 1987. (HESS et al. 1997,
after CHAUDHRY et al. 1988, CHAUDHRY 1992, unpubl. data, MIRZA et al.
1979 and SCHALLER 1977). The private Game Reserve of the Nawab of
Kalabagh, about 175 kilometers southwest of Islamabad in Punjab
province, possesses the largest population of O. v. punjabiensis
estimated to be over 800-850 animals. The total population in the
province is estimated to be less than 2,000 animals scattered in four or
five small groups. (TAREN 1999, in litt. after pers. comm. to A. A.
CHAUDHRY, Director of Punjab Wildlife Department). According to GARSTANG
(1999) only four other sub-populations with a total population size
estimated at a maximum of 200-250 urial were located outside the Kalabah
Region (Kala Bagh Sanctuary of the Jabbah Valley, District Mianwali).
1900 the Ladakh urial used to be a common animal of northern Pakistan.
According to SCHALLER (1976) < 1,000 animals were left in Pakistan.
HESS (1997 and 1999, in litt.) estimated only 200 - 400 individuals for
1983 -1988. In 1992 a total of 57 urial was estimated by NWFP Forest
Department. The total estimated for the Northern Areas for 1993 was 400
- 500 urial (G.TAHIR, Wildlife Wing, Northern Areas Forest Dept., in
litt. to G. RASOOL). There are probably < 600 Ladakh urial in total
in Pakistan. (HESS et al. 1997, after NWFP 1992, SCHALLER 1976 and G.
TAHIR in litt. to G. RASOOL). According to Rasool (1999, in litt.) the
previous estimated population has now dropped down to 200 - 300 urial in
the whole of the Northern Areas of Pakistan.
three sub-species of Urial in Pakistan are listed as Endangered in by
the IUCN's Capirane Specialist Group. Unless conservation measures are
taken quickly, the Urial will be lost in Pakistan, especially Ladakh and
Punjab urial. One of the main reason is that the populations are very
small and widely scattered in relatively accesible terrain, and thus can
easily be wiped out with no chance for areas to be naturally
re-populated through dispersal.
The Mammals of Pakistan, T.J. Roberts, Oxford University
Press, Karachi, 1997
Survey and Conservation Action Plan for Caprinae "Wild
Sheep and Goats and their Relatives", IUCN/SSC 1997
Wildlife of Pakistan-All Rights