Animals in Mongolia: Argali

by Erdene

Argali by Yves and Anne

Argali by Yves and Anne

Animals in Mongolia: Argali


The argali, or the mountain sheep (species Ovis ammon) is the globally endangered wild sheep, which roams the highlands of Central Asia (Himalaya, Tibet, Altay). It is also the biggest wild sheep, standing as high as 120 cm and weighing as much as 140 kg. The Pamir argali (also called Marco Polo sheep, for they were first described by that traveler) may attain more than 6 feet in length.

The general coloration varies between each animal, from a light yellow to a dark grey-brown. The face is lighter. Males have a whitish neck ruff and a dorsal crest. Males have two large corkscrew horns, some measuring 190 cm/ 6.3 ft in length. Males use their horns for competing with one another. Females also carry horns, but much smaller.

Argali live in herds between 2 and 100 animals, segregated by sex, except during breeding season. Migrating herds, especially males, have been reported. With long legs, herds can travel quickly from place to place. Argali tend to live at higher elevations during the summer.

Argalis are considered endangered or threatened throughout their entire range, due to habitat loss from overgrazing of domestic sheep and hunting. They are hunted for both their meat and their horns, used in traditional Chinese medicine. Legal hunting of trophies has also added to the mortality.

Some sources classify mouflon as Ovis ammon musimon. However, DNA testing has not supported this. Several subspecies of argali have been genetically tested for mtDNA and one study found that the subspecies Ovis ammon ammon, O. ammon darwini and the urial subspecies, O. vignei bochariensis grouped closely while the subspecies Ovis ammon collium and O. ammon nigrimontana grouped with the urial subspecies O. vignei arkal.

Animals in Mongolia: Argali

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Animals.

Hi, I am T. K. and I am the head eagle hunter of my tribe, just kidding! Connect with me on FB and leave  your comments, questions etc.