AskDefine | Define aoudad

Dictionary Definition

aoudad n : wild sheep of northern Africa [syn: arui, audad, Barbary sheep, maned sheep, Ammotragus lervia]

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Extensive Definition

The Barbary Sheep (Ammotragus lervia, also called Aoudad and Arui) is a species of Caprinae (goat-antelope) found in rocky mountains in North Africa. Six subspecies have been described. Although it is rare in its native North Africa, it has been introduced to North America, southern Europe and elsewhere.


Barbary Sheep stand 80 to 100 cm (30 to 40 inches) tall at the shoulder and weigh 40 to 140 kg (90 to 310 lb). They are a sandy-brown color, darkening with age, with a slightly lighter underbelly and a darker line on the back. Upperparts and outer legs are uniform reddish-brown or grayish-brown. There is some shaggy hair on the throat (extending down to the chest in males) and a sparse "mane". Their horns have a triangular cross section. The horns curve outwards, backwards then inwards, and reach up to 50 cm (20 inches). The horns are smooth, but wrinkled at the base. Scientists say that the horns can grow to be about six inches long.


The subspecies are classified mainly according to their distribution in North Africa:
  • Ammotragus lervia lervia Pallas, 1777.
  • Ammotragus lervia ornata I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1827.
  • Ammotragus lervia sahariensis Rothschild, 1913.
  • Ammotragus lervia blainei Rothschild, 1913.
  • Ammotragus lervia angusi Rothschild, 1921.
  • Ammotragus lervia fassini Lepri, 1930.
  • Ammotragus lervia ornata, the Egyptian Barbary Sheep, which was considered to be extinct but recent evidence suggests it still exists.


Barbary Sheep are found in arid mountainous areas of the Sahara where they graze and browse all available plants -- grass, bushes, lichen and acacia. They obtain all their moisture from food, but if water is available they drink and wallow in it. Barbary Sheep are crepuscular, active in the early morning and late afternoon, resting in the heat of the day. They are very agile and can jump over two metres from a stand-still. Barbary Sheep are usually solitary, and freeze in the presence of danger. Their main predators in North Africa are leopards and caracals.
Barbary sheep are found in Mauritania, Morocco, southern Algeria, northwest Chad and Sudan, and were introduced into southeastern Spain and southwestern United States (parts of Texas, New Mexico, California) and Mexico and in some parts of Africa.

Expansion to Southern Europe

The species is currently expanding in the southeastern quarter of the Iberian Peninsula according to recent field surveys (Cassinello et al., 2004). Aoudads have become common in a limited region of the south east of Spain since its introduction as a game species in Sierra Espuña Natural Park in 1970. Its adaptability enabled it to colonise nearby areas quickly. Increasing number of Aoudads in Spanish private game estates were other centers of dispersion.
Aoudads also were introduced in La Palma Island (Canary Islands), becoming a serious threat to endemic flora. Of great conservation concern is their potential as competitors against native ungulates inhabiting the peninsula. Surveys conducted in southern Spain documented rapid colonization of new areas and established viable populations, consisting of adult males and females and the unequivocal presence of nursery groups, in the provinces of Alicante, Almería, Granada and Murcia. Aoudads have also spread throughout the north and centre of La Palma.
There are two main conservational concerns: the necessity to conduct detailed, reliable surveys in all potential regions where the species might expand, and the urgent need to change current game policies in order to establish reliable controls on big game estates to prevent animals from escaping.


The binomial name Ammotragus lervia derives from the Greek ammos ("sand", referring to the sand-coloured coat) and tragos ("goat"). Lervia derives from the wild sheep of northern Africa described as "lerwee" by Rev. T. Shaw in his "Travels and Observations" about parts of Barbary and Levant.
"Aoudad" ( or /ˈaʊdæd/) is the name for this sheep used by the Berbers, a North African people.


External links


  • Cassinello, J. (1998). Ammotragus lervia: a review on systematics, biology, ecology and distribution. Annales Zoologici Fennici 35: 149-162
  • Cassinello, J.; Serrano, E.; Calabuig, G. & Pérez, J.M. (2004). Range expansion of an exotic ungulate (Ammotragus lervia) in southern Spain: ecological and conservation concerns. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 851-866
  • Wacher, T., Baha El Din, S., Mikhail, G. & Baha El din, M. (2002). New observations of the ‘extinct’ Aoudad Ammotragus lervia ornata in Egypt. Oryx 36: 301–304.
aoudad in Arabic: ضأن بربري
aoudad in German: Mähnenspringer
aoudad in Spanish: Ammotragus lervia
aoudad in French: Mouflon à manchettes
aoudad in Italian: Ammotragus lervia
aoudad in Lithuanian: Berberinis avinas
aoudad in Hungarian: Sörényes juh
aoudad in Dutch: Manenschaap
aoudad in Japanese: バーバリシープ
aoudad in Polish: Owca grzywiasta
aoudad in Portuguese: Ammotragus lervia
aoudad in Finnish: Harjalammas
aoudad in Swedish: Manfår
aoudad in Thai: แกะภูเขา
aoudad in Chinese: 蛮羊
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