Arabian Tahr
The Arabian tahr is a species of tahr
Tahrs are three species of large Asian ungulates related to the wild goat. Until recently the three species were believed to be closely related and were placed in a single genus, Hemitragus. Genetic studies have proved that the three tahrs are not as closely related as thought earlier...

 native to Arabia. Until recently, it was placed in the genus Hemitragus, but genetic
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 evidence supports its removal to separate monotypic
In biology, a monotypic taxon is a taxonomic group with only one biological type. The term's usage differs slightly between botany and zoology. The term monotypic has a separate use in conservation biology, monotypic habitat, regarding species habitat conversion eliminating biodiversity and...


The Arabian tahr is the smallest species of tahr. The animal is of stocky build with backward-arching horns
Horn (anatomy)
A horn is a pointed projection of the skin on the head of various animals, consisting of a covering of horn surrounding a core of living bone. True horns are found mainly among the ruminant artiodactyls, in the families Antilocapridae and Bovidae...

 in both sexes. However, males' are much more robust than females'. Its coat consists of a long, reddish-brown hair, with a dark stripe running down the back. Males possess the most impressive manes which extend right down the back and grow longer, based on the age. Older males also grow such a grand mane with a black muzzle and darker eye stripes. As with most mountain goats and sheep, it has rubbery hooves to provide balance and traction on the steep, rocky slopes.

Habitat and range

The Arabian tahr lives on steep rocky slopes of Hajar Mountains in United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

 and the Sultanate of Oman
Oman , officially called the Sultanate of Oman , is an Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by the United Arab Emirates to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The coast is formed by the Arabian Sea on the...

, at altitudes of up to 1,800 meters above sea level.


Unlike other species of tahrs, the Arabian tahr is solitary or lives in small groups consisting of a female and a kid, or a male. And instead of forming herd
Herd refers to a social grouping of certain animals of the same species, either wild or domestic, and also to the form of collective animal behavior associated with this or as a verb, to herd, to its control by another species such as humans or dogs.The term herd is generally applied to mammals,...

s during seasonal ruts, reproduction occurs in small, dispersed family units. There are reports of births occurring throughout the year, and gestation lasts from 140–145 days.


These animals are usually browsers
Browsing (predation)
Browsing is a type of herbivory in which an herbivore feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high growing, generally woody, plants such as shrubs. This is contrasted with grazing, usually associated with animals feeding on grass or other low vegetation...

, feeding on grass
Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

, shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s, leaves
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

, and fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

s of most trees. They are highly dependent on water and need to drink two or three days during summer. They would descend from their point of elevation to drink from river courses known as wadi
Wadi is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. In some cases, it may refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain or simply an intermittent stream.-Variant names:...

s. And would travel to new areas when water dries up.


The Arabian tahr is an endangered
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

 due to intense overgrazing
Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing for extended periods of time, or without sufficient recovery periods. It can be caused by either livestock in poorly managed agricultural applications, or by overpopulations of native or non-native wild animals.Overgrazing reduces the...

, poaching, and habitat destruction
Habitat destruction
Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms that previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity mainly for the purpose of...

. In Oman, during the recent years, increased human migrations to urban areas resulted to domestic goats gone feral and foraging in places which were once the tahr's home. Habitat degradation is also due to construction of roads, buildings, and mineral extraction. And poaching often leads to the animals descending down for a fresh drink.


In 1973, efforts were planned to protect the Arabian tahr. And in 1975, it was granted in the Hajar Mountains. In 1980, a captive breeding program was set up at the Omani Mammal Breeding Center in order to reintroduce captive-bred individuals back into the wild. There are now three institutions involved, one in Oman and two in UAE. Sadly, many people seem to be unaware about the tahr's grave situations, leading to other conservations initiatives to focus on the publicity and educational campaigns to raise the animal's profile. In April 2009, the Wadi Wurayah Fujairah preserve was set aside by royal decree in the United Arab Emirates for the protection of the Arabian Tahr.

External links

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